Category: Crye-Leike in the News
286 articles included in Crye-Leike in the News
Posted: March 27, 2009 06:54 PM SPRING HILL, Tenn. - Habitat for Humanity celebrated the completion of their first home built by "Green" standards. Rockeya Turner cut the ribbon on her brand new home on Friday thanks to a lot of hard work from volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. Turner and her four children will now have a place to call home. The house was the 4th Habitat Home the Jones Company and Crye-Leike Realtors have built together. The Williamson County home took 100 volunteers, 30 supply sponsors and $70,000.
Watch The Story At: http://www.wkrn.com/global/story.asp?s=10030834 By Reporter Erin Holt Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Posted: March 18, 2009 04:35 PM If you're having trouble selling your home, house swapping, or trading, could be for you. The concept has been around for awhile but it's catching on again in the current economy. Felecity and Rob Vaughter have been trying to sell their home for the last six months. They've renovated, lowered their price and still, have had no bidders. After some research, the Vaughter's decided to try the house swapping market. "We thought we'd entertain the idea of swapping," Felecity Vaughter told News 2 Wednesday. "We'd seen it on TV where it had worked for another couple, so we thought, ?Why not, now we'll give it a try'." Barbara Adams, a realtor with Crye-Leike, says trading can work for almost anyone and even more so for sellers who don't want to discount their price "It's most important to anyone that wants to preserve their equity and doesn't want to discount their price," she said. "In today's market, that's music to a seller's ear." Unlike selling, trading ensures you will have a buyer and gives sellers a whole new set of possibilities. "You can trade up, you can trade down or laterally," said Adams. "You can have more than one party involved in a trade, you can trade, three, four, five or six, and you can trade out of state." Ideally, the Vaughter's said they'd like to have a vacation home in Gatlinburg or a piece of land. So far, their only offer is for an RV. The Vaughter's say no offer is too crazy for them. "Nothing's ever too strange, go ahead, send it out there," said Felecity Vaughter. Realtors say if you're willing to step outside the box, the options for trading can be endless and can involve any asset, not just homes.
Chattanooga Times Free Press - Chattanooga,TN,USA Business - Thursday, March 12, 2009, 12:00 a.m. By: Jason Reynolds Hugh Huffaker, Chattanooga's longest-serving Realtor, has hung up his for-sale sign after 55 years. "To start your own firm and attract agents is a big challenge," Mr. Huffaker said. "It took a period of time, and I ended up with 100 agents and four offices. Real estate is one of the things I enjoyed the most." Crye-Leike employees and other local real estate agents celebrated Mr. Huffaker's career at a ceremony Wednesday at the company's downtown office. Mr. Huffaker sold his company to Crye-Leike in 1997. "He has been one of the pillars of the real estate community the past 55 years," said Jack Webb, a Crye-Leike commercial broker who served as president of Huffaker Inc. Mr. Huffaker's company traces its roots back to Ferger Brothers, an insurance and real estate company formed in 1887, said Mr. Huffaker's daughter, Kathy Wilder. Later, the company was called Huffaker & Associates. Mr. Huffaker's accomplishments include a term as president of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors in 1979 and the development of Hidden Brook subdivision on Signal Mountain along with Tommy Lupton. Mr. Huffaker was the first chairman of the CARTA board and a founding elder of Rivermont Presbyterian Church, as well as a board member of McCallie School. Mr. Huffaker said he has seen many changes in the industry. Real estate agents used to be based mostly in downtown buildings, he said, and only three agents were women. Also, agents must obtain more education to receive a license, he said, but that provides better service to clients. PERSONAL GLANCE * Name: Hugh Huffaker * Profession: Real estate agent since 1954; founded Huffaker Inc. Realtors, which was Chattanooga's largest independent firm when Crye-Leike bought the business in 1997. Family: Wife, Marian; children, Kathy Wilder, Alice Thatcher and Hugh Huffaker III Hobby: He has exercised at the YMCA for 50 years. He once played handball but now enjoys using the exercise bike and the walking track.
Posted: 8:08 PM Mar 9, 2009 Reporter: Gene Birk Email Address: email@example.com Watch The Story At: http://www.wbko.com/news/headlines/40999397.html Bowling Green, KY., Inman News bills itself as the leading source of independent real estate information. It says 2009 could go down as the worst year ever for housing since the Great Depression. RealtyTrac says it's the nation's most trusted source of foreclosure information. It claims foreclosures rose 81-percent from 2007 to 2008, and tripled from 2006. And the Moody's Economy research firm Predicts foreclosures will go up another 18-percent this year. In this uncertain economic climate, homeowners are just trying to keep the house they have, much less looking to buy a new one. And realtors are saying what they can to inspire people to buy. "I think at some point," says Dick Leike, president of Crye-Leike Realtors, "this is the United States and Americans say, 'Hey, enough of this, the sky's not fallin', we're not gonna implode. Let's get back with our lives.' And that's, y'know where you lay your head is not discretionary. You've got to have a home." Leike is trying to put a good face on a business that saw a 30-percent plunge in sales last year. "Y'know the rates today are as low as they have been, "says Leike. "I've been in real estate 48 years, and rates today are as low as I've ever seen them in all that time." And Bowling Green realtors continue to say things aren't as bad here. "We're just gonna have to get the message out there that the banks are still lending money," says Kirk Tinsley of Crye-Leike Executive Realty, "that the interest rate is still good, and that people are not losing thousands and thousands of dollars on their home like they are in other parts of the country." So as realtors try to inspire sales in a dismal market, just who is buying? Realtors tell me, aside from repossessions, there are a few first time buyers and people who are relocating. Kim Johnson found herself in that position, returning to Bowling Green after eight years in California. "And wanted to come back here, and just kinda start new," she says. "I needed a place for my daughters and I to start over, to start new memories and just a place for us." And Kim's realtor was sensitive to her emotions. "Even for the people who say they're black and white, total business," says Gretchen Cherry of Progressive Real Estate Groups. "It's always an emotional experience, because that's where you're going to live, where you're going to raise your family. That's where you're coming home after work." And Kim says there are advantages to buying now. "Lots of options, that was really good for me," she says. "And there were certain things I was looking for, and certain price ranges, and there was a lot of options, y'know it was a good time to buy." Just as it was a mistake for people who really didn't qualify, to buy a house when lenders made it too easy, realtor Gretchen Cherry, says it would be a mistake for people who do qualify now, to sit on the sidelines, when they could be getting a good deal on a new home." "And for people just to make the decision not to buy a home, because they have heard it may not be a good time to buy a house, is not a wise decision," she says. "They need to make decisions for themselves, based upon their own circumstances." With housing prices and interest rates both down it appears to be a "buyers' market" for people in financial shape to buy. To check out your financial shape Inman News suggests you go to annualcreditreport.com. And to get good mortgage information they say try bankrate.com to see current interest rates from lenders who work in your area.
WPLN News Transcripts Friday, March 6, 2009 By Kate Georgen Rising foreclosures have Nashville realtors looking for new ways to sell their foreclosed properties. In Davidson County alone, foreclosure rates are up 70 percent from this time last year. This week, Crye-Leike filled two charter buses with potential investors for a tour of bank-owned properties. The real estate agency has seen its foreclosure inventory more than double since this time last year. Jon Schmarko took Crye-Leike's tour. While the housing market here isn't improving, he recently moved from Michigan to Nashville and says the investment prospects are better. It's not nearly as bad here in Nashville, there's still a lot of good opportunity here. The market is totally different as far as bank-owned properties and the investment opportunities. According to RealtyTrac.com, Davidson County has almost 2,000 foreclosed homes. More than 250 were added in January alone.
Posted: March 5, 2009 03:26 PM A record five-and-a-half-million Americans are facing foreclosure, according to new numbers released by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America Thursday. While California and Florida are on the high end of the spectrum, with more than 30,000 foreclosures a piece, Tennessee is considered to be in the lowest danger category, with just fewer than 5,000. According to the MBA, the percentage of overdue loans hit 12% in February, up from 10% in September and 8% in February of last year. Thursday, local real estate agency Crye-Leike hosted a bus tour of foreclosed homes in the area. The first home on the tour was listed for $92,000 in 2008. Since then, the carpet and tile has been replaced and it's now listed for just less than $50,000. "There's a lot on the market. There's an abundance out there and right now, the foreclosed properties are the ones people are interested in right now, they think they're going to get a good deal," said realtor Cheryl Ballesteros. A 4,000 square foot Victorian mansion from the 1800s was also showcased. Just a year ago, the home was selling for $700,000. When it was last listed, the price had dropped $200,000. While foreclosed homes can be a great deal, realtors caution buyers need to be prepared to spend time and money as many are in need of repairs. This is the second year Crye-Leike has hosted the foreclosure tour.
By News Anchor & Reporter Alex Coleman 3:41 PM CST, March 3, 2009 Memphis, TN., It's almost a rite of passage for thousands of Shelby County homeowners like Larry Finney. It's a time when they begin checking their mailboxes for property reappraisal notices. "Anytime you invest money into something you'd like to see it appreciate. That hasn't been the case for the property around here," Finney said. Anyone wondering how much their home values have gone up or gone down will have those questions answered when 2009 Reappraisal Notices are mailed out. Cheyenne Johnson is the Shelby County Property Assessor. "They could possibly be considered a shock, but I think it's a realization of what occurred over the last four years," Johnson said. Johnson says a slow housing market and a record number of homes in foreclosure will impact property values. "We are going into those different neighborhoods to determine if foreclosures are the main activity as for transfers of property. If that's taken place then properties will see a reduction and it will affect their values," Johnson said. In recent years, traditional property sales have decreased and it's become a buyer's market. Hank Hogue is the Crye-Leike Realtors Cordova Property Manager. "A lot of that has been affected by the high number of foreclosure sales in all areas of town and those tend to be less expensive and that pulls down our average and median prices," Hogue said. But as property values possibly go down for some, the assessor's office says others might see them go up. "But we do have some neighborhoods where foreclosures have not impacted the neighborhood and where sales are sufficient and those individuals may see an increase," Johnson said. It's why property owners like Larry Finney brace themselves for whatever the outcome might be. "It's takes a little longer for folks to sell, but we're here for a while so that doesn't bother us," Finney said. Copyright ? 2009, WREG-TV
RISMEDIA, February 27, 2009 By Mike Parker RISmedia - The Leader In Real Estate Information Systems "Lilo" Clacher is an agent with Crye-Leike Realtors in Cookeville, TN. She has been a Realtor for 13 years: 11 in Florida and the last two in Tennessee. But it is only in the last two years that she has succeeded online. In 2008, 75% of her leads and 17 of her sales came from her website (www.lilorealtor.com). No doubt, many agents would be very happy to have 17 sales closed in that terrible year, but it's how Clacher lands listings that literally blew us away when we spoke to her recently. How she does so illustrates an often-overlooked benefit of being a true Internet Realtor: success selling homes online attracts sellers because the public knows that 84% of all homes sales begin on the Internet. Convincing the client that you are special and an Internet success Talk is cheap and clients know it. Simply having a website (no matter how pretty it is) doesn't convince them that an agent dominates a marketplace online. Setting up your laptop (or, using their own desktop), however, to prove your domination enables you to show them with no uncertainty the strength of your Internet marketing and your skill set. With those tools, closing listing presentations becomes much simpler. Clacher has a simple presentation to show her Internet dominance. First, she tells clients of the importance of the Internet in selling property today. "Surprisingly," she says, "many clients already know that a strong Internet presence is necessary, but most have never seen it proven right in their living rooms. The first thing I do is ask them to enter ?Cookeville TN Real Estate' (or another of the towns I sell in) into their favorite search engine. Because I come up on page one of all of them, they immediately get the point that anyone looking for property in Cookeville online has a chance at coming to my website. Then, using my WebReporterTool, I show them statistics about my site and what it does for my clients. I show them how 4902 people found my site on the first pages of the major search engines in the last year. I show them that 50% of the visitors to my site come from search engines, meaning that we aren't limited to just the local marketplace when selling their home, but that people from all over look on my site. I open a chart that shows that while I had 9600 page views from Tennessee in recent months, that I had 8900 from Florida, 4100 from VA, 3900 from New York and even 2700 from California. They immediately understand that there is a whole large group of homebuyers on the Internet that would never find them without the services of an Internet realtor. And then, I pull out my secret weapon, and close the listing! Since I started this, I have won seven listings." Clacher's ?secret weapon' Remember, she has just spent a few moments enthralling her prospects with evidence of her Internet strengths and attractiveness. With the stage thus set, she turns on her StatCaster feature on her WebReporterTool, which shows -live, as it happens-every visitor to her site, where that visitor is from, and how many page views her site has had so far that day. Thus, the client's attention is seized by this little box on the bottom of her laptop and sure as shooting, while they watch, visitors come onto Clacher's site right in front of them! "It never fails to trigger a conversation about how I sold someone's home they know to a person from out of state," Clacher told me, "and that's when they are convinced to list their home with me." Clacher uses simple technology but knows that it's personal service that makes one successful. There's no question that my success online has a lot to do with my CompassSearch subscription, Clacher told me. "After all, before I subscribed I could get no higher than page 14 of Google. Once I subscribed I was on page one of Google within six weeks and sold my first home from my subscription seven weeks after I signed up. But a recent transaction also reminded me of how important all of our traditional skills are in succeeding with accounts," she said. "A couple from Florida was working with me. I must have sent them dozens of listings via e-mail and answered hundreds of questions the same way. I took extra pictures of I don't know how many homes. Something was always wrong and we just couldn't seem to focus on any one home. Finally the couple visited Tennessee and I sold them a large home. After signing the contract, my buyers told me that they tried to contact other Realtors in my town; one who had even been recommended to them by a friend. The reason they chose me, according to my military buyers, was ?that you never gave up and you answered every question we asked in a very prompt manner. Some people we contacted never even wrote us back or called us, and others seemed to think we were running them around. You were always there and we knew that you would see us through this to completion.'" Clacher made a logical decision to become an Internet Realtor "My business today comes from all over the country and mostly through my website, because two years ago (after moving from Florida as a very successful agent with a team) I realized that it would take a long time for me (as the newcomer to my area here in Tennessee), to be accepted. I had to do something to create business for myself and started to research my options. I was reading and studying about SEO and knew that this was the tool I needed in order for my website and me to be found and recognized by people looking for homes online. I interviewed several SEO companies and that is when I found CompassSearch/Blackwater. I was so impressed with the company's customer service, management tools and determination to get me top placement that I went with them two years ago, and I am sure glad that I did." "I view my sales results as a reflection of my dedication and commitment to providing the best service possible while working with each of my clients. Success, I believe, is not in the number of deals I close, but in the way I deal with my Clients. Ultimately, it's because my success is truly my client's success. That is what attracted me to real estate 13 years ago, and that is what I love about it today. " ? 2009 Mike Parker Online Marketing Mike Parker specializes in online marketing services for Realtors? and real estate professionals. Obtain a free copy of his booklet that shows you what Lilo Clacher was referring to above "REAL SEO Explained" by writing to realseo@compassInternetsystems.com. It will be sent to you free and no one will call you. To request a free review of your website to determine if it can be found by Internet buyers and if it is search engine friendly, click here and it will be evaluated free. RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Feb 24, 2009 05:08 PM Find News 2 WKRN-TV at www.wkrn.com Even pets are not immune to the tough economy and as more families struggle to make ends meet, more and more are forced to leave their animals behind or drop them off at the local animal shelter. Tuesday, Crye-Leike realtors donated $500 and car loads of supplies to the Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter, a local shelter that has seen an influx of animals in the slumping economy. The realtors said they've witnessed the effects of the economy first-hand, having found animals left at homes that have been foreclosed on. "A lot of people are bringing [in their pets] claiming that they are strays [because] they don't have the heart to tell us that they are dropping them off," said Sgt. Keith Voumans with the Mt. Juliet Police Department. "Sometimes you can tell and it's sad. People are giving up family members. They simply can't afford to pay for them." The Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter opened in December. It's donations that keep it going. "The food is donated. The bedding is donated. The litter is donated. Everything has been donated by the community. It's been wonderful," said Sgt. Voumans. "Since we opened the doors December 13 we have raised $9,000." Shelter employees said most of the animals dropped off are adopted and they keep the prospective pets as long as they believe they can be adopted. While a shelter should be the "last case scenario", Sgt. Voumans says it's better than the alternative. "If it comes down to the point where the animal is not receiving the care it deserves, then you need to find him another home," he said. Nearly 100 animals have been adopted since the shelter opened.
Crye-Leike Relocation Services Division Nominated For World Diamond Award - Reported By the Chattannogan.com
Reported By the Chattanoogan.com posted February 23, 2009 The Crye-Leike, Realtors relocation services division has been named a nominee for the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Diamond Award. Only 23 of 700 member real estate firms received this honor, officials said. The Diamond Award is presented annually to the member company that has most actively participated in all of LeadingRE's business offerings. "It is such an honor to be named among the best companies in the world assisting people who are relocating," said Carol Nall, director of Crye-Leike Relocation Services in Chattanooga. "During the current economic downturn we have managed to remain flexible and adaptive in meeting the changing relocation demands and needs of individuals and companies." The winner will be announced during the annual awards gala March 28 during the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World annual conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. The event attracts brokers, managers and relocation professionals from leading real estate firms worldwide. "To be nominated for this award is a true distinction," said Pam O'Connor, president/CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. "These firms represent some of the finest in the industry - those that are progressive, engaged and committed to delivering the most comprehensive and responsive service to their clients."
Posted By: Ebone' Mone't February 18, 2009 On The Web At: www.todaysthv.com President Obama signed the stimulus bill in to law Tuesday, and Arkansas home owners are already taking advantage. The American Recover and Reinvestment Act includes a first time home buyer tax credit of up to 8,000 dollars. Meagan Frazier is opening the door to a new phase in her life. The recent college graduate has big plans to put her interior design degree to good use. "It's kind of scary, but it really exciting," says Frazier. Fraizer and her fianc?e Todd McGuire's new 1960's fixer upper is her canvas. "I can't wait till all the changes are done and the vision is finally real, I'm really excited," says Frazier. The couple has just applied for the first time home owner tax credit of up to $8,000 dollars or 10 percent of the cost. It's for to people who've bought a house on or after January 1, 2009. Homeowners who haven't claimed a mortgage interest deduction on their income taxes /in the last three years qualify. Benton Crye-Leike realtor Karen Crowson says this credit is right on time. "Right now is the perfect time especially for first time homeowners, with this tax credit," says Crowson. "We went through a little slump last year and we're starting to come out of that and I feel like the stimulus package will definitely help," says Crowson. "Without the money we wouldn't be able to do any of the major things we wanted to do," explains Frazier. "This is really the first time I really feel that the government that I'm affected by something the government has done in a positive way," explains McGuire. To keep the credit homeowners have to keep the house for at least three years. That's exactly what this couple says plan to do. They hope their new home will be the perfect place to live out the next chapters in their lives.
Layoffs could damage real-estate market on two fronts - Reported by The Benton County Daily Record in Northwest, Arkansas
By Tom Treweek Staff Writer ! email@example.com Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2009 BENTON COUNTY - The real-estate market in northwest Arkansas has been slow of late; not that it hasn't been slow everywhere. But with up to 800 layoffs announced by the Wal-Mart Home Office, local brokers are worried about further damage. Crye-Leike broker Dave Mishler, who works for the company's Bentonville office but will soon head the Bella Vista office, said there is about a 14-month supply of vacant homes for sale in Bentonville, Bella Vista and Rogers. The Wal-Mart layoffs, he said, could add another three- or four-month supply. Should those now without jobs need to move to find work, the market situation could give them little chance to sell their current homes. Mishler estimated that two-thirds of the affected employees are likely homeowners. "It could make it difficult for those looking to relocate," he said. Cameron Torabi, owner and broker at Exit Pinnacle Realty in Rogers, said the relative unavailability of financing will also make homes difficult to sell. "A lot of things are playing into the mess," Torabi said. But what may damage the market most, reaching both residential and commercial properties, is the emotional impact of the layoffs, shaking the confidence residents and investors had placed in the world's largest retailer. "In our area, Wal-Mart is kind of like the flagship of stability," Torabi said. Before Tuesday, Torabi had seen a lot of interest in this region because of the perception that Wal-Mart provided a solid foundation for the local economy. "We've been getting a lot of big-money investors," Torabi said. "They come to this area because of the affordability index, as well as the number of stable Fortune 500 companies we have here." But now that confidence is shaken. "I call it the psychology of the event," Mishler said. "To have this happen is kind of shocking." In a few months, however, the community's psyche will return to normal, Mishler said, and the economy will rebound. "I still am very positive on this area," Mishler said. "And if these people would stick it out, I still believe northwest Arkansas will rebound faster than other areas nationally." Torabi hopes to absorb some of that workforce. He plans to call some of those who were laid off from Wal-Mart's real-estate division. "With the learning and the experience they have, it could be very beneficial," Torabi said. Torabi said there is opportunity for anyone in the real-estate field, but Mishler said he worries that oversaturation of brokers would mean less money for everyone trying to sell land.
Last updated Tuesday, February 10, 2009 5:44 PM CST in Business By Kim Souza THE MORNING NEWS SPRINGDALE -- Home sales across the state continued to decline in December, capping off the worst year in nearly a decade, according to a report released by the Arkansas Realtors Association. Statewide there were 25,012 homes sold last year, down 18.16 percent from the previous year and off 25.29 percent from the market's best year of 2005. Average home prices across the state dipped 1.98 percent to $149,055, according to the report. Local economists have attributed the declining home sales to tighter borrowing requirements from lenders and weaker consumer confidence relating to falling home prices and worries about future job losses. Agents and brokers who saw their commissions shrink by more than $67 million last year remain optimistic that better days are ahead. Harold Crye, co-owner of Crye-Leike Real Estate, believes the market is bouncing along the bottom of the trough. He said he expects sales to improve in the second half of this year after government stimulus plans begin to calm consumer fears. Benton and Washington counties reported the steepest market decline in terms of both number of sales and prices. These counties rank No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, in terms of market size. Together Benton and Washington counties comprised 21 percent of the state's total real estate sales last year, clearly impacting the state's overall results. The report indicated Benton County's average home prices slid 5.25 percent in 2008 to $181,597, while Washington County reported a 2.29 percent dip in average prices in the same period. But not all the counties showed declines. Average home prices in Cleburne County actually jumped 2.96 percent, to $168,689, the fifth-highest in the state. Prices in Garland County and the Hot Springs market also held steady, increasing 0.77 percent to $174,550 in 2008. The state's largest market -- Pulaski County -- reported its total home sales fell roughly 21 percent in 2008, while home prices dropped 2.18 percent to $171,679.
Posted: Feb 10, 2009 06:55 PM CST Reported By: Chris Cannon NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, TN NASHVILLE, Tenn.- New numbers show just how bad the situation is getting with the housing market. A double digit dip in sales highlights how buyers and sellers in the Nashville area are waiting out these tough times. The numbers haven't been this bad since 1994. When it comes to selling one particular Brentwood home, Realtor Terri Mason has her sales pitch down and she has to. "A couple of summers ago you could put a sign in the yard and it would sell in a week or two weeks. It was, things changed," said Terri Mason of Crye-Leike Realtors. A hobbled housing is keeping homes hidden from buyers. "It's something we didn't want to see. There's no candy coating it. It is what it is," said Mike Nichols, Greater Nashville Association Realtors. Mike Nichols has the January sales numbers for home sales in the Nashville area, and the market meltdown has taken its toll. "We're on the tail end of getting the affects of this," said Nichols. In the eight counties that make up the Nashville real estate market, January numbers are down by 40 percent. In 2008, there were more than 1,600 sales. This year that number dropped to 974. Simple numbers that have made the real estate business difficult. "There's fewer buyers, there are fewer sellers and you've got to find the one that have a reason to buy or sell, and I think we're all going for the same consumer," said Nichols. "We have to work hard and smarter," said Mason. That means marketing and pricing a home to sell. This is the first time since February of 1994 that Nashville has seen fewer than a thousand closings in one month. Experts say the market felt the affects of this meltdown way after the rest of the nation, and they hope we'll be one of the first to recover. Many in the real estate business are counting on the new stimulus plan out of Washington to help jumpstart the industry.
Gaining ground : Despite economic conditions, Crye-Leike has forged ahead in the Mid-South real-estate market with Northwest Arkansas as a major component.
By Jeff Mores Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org Posted on Wednesday, February 4, 2009 ROGERS - When it comes to real-estate companies in northwest Arkansas, the names at the top of the list include the likes of Lindsey and Associates, Coldwell Banker and Harris-McHaney. But there's another that, despite having put down roots here just two years ago during one of the most turbulent economic times in history, has been climbing that ladder. When Crye-Leike Realtors held its 2008 Kickoff Meeting at the John Q. Hammons Center, the room was about half full. When that same meeting was held Tuesday to kick off 2009, the room was full. And following a year when most people might assume that, given the state of the economy, real-estate companies were more than anxious to say goodbye to 2008, the rapidly growing Crye-Leike contingent taking shape in northwest Arkansas brimmed with enthusiasm. When one looks how deep Crye-Leike's roots have managed to reach in just more than two years in northwest Arkansas - all of which have been post-economic boom here - it becomes easy to see from where that enthusiasm stems. During 2008 alone, Crye-Leike made a significant push, leapfrogging from ninth to fourth in sales volume in northwest Arkansas, and has Lindsey, Coldwell Banker and Harris-McHaney in its sights. "We were up 71 percent last year in northwest Arkansas," founder Harold Crye said. "Anytime you're new in a region and adding people, you're going to show growth, but to grow by over 70 percent in a period of 12 months says something about the potential here. "I like to think of us as - and I've heard others suggest the same - the Wal-Mart of real estate. Agents want greater splits and great services, and what we can offer them is unmatched. A lot of the big companies can offer one or the other, but we can do both. This company has 3,500 agents, 120 offices and does over $4 billion in sales annually, so we can do some things others just can't." Founded in 1977, Crye-Leike has grown to bill itself as the leader in real estate in the mid-South, with a strong presence in markets including Memphis, Chattanooga and Little Rock. In 2008, the company focused its growth opportunities in Atlanta and northwest Arkansas. Crye-Leike has established itself as the leading real-estate company by volume in Little Rock and expanded its northwest Arkansas presence to include offices in Bentonville, Rogers, Gentry, Springdale and Fayetteville. During a time when many real-estate companies are folding or merging under economic pressures, Crye-Leike forges ahead, planning or nearing completion of additional offices in Bella Vista, Bentonville and Siloam Springs. Dave Mishler, a broker who will head up Crye-Leike's Bella Vista office, nearing completion next to the Walgreens at U.S. Highway 71 and Benton County Road 40, has been in the real-estate business for the past several years. He's also a retired Wal-Mart associate and is willing to take the Wal-Mart comparison one step further. "Harold Crye is the Sam Walton of real estate," Mishler said. "He started this company in Memphis in the 1970s, when times were tough. Now, Crye-Leike is a multibillion-dollar company and the fourth largest independently owned real-estate company in the U.S., and growing. What it offers its agents is unmatched, and its customers see and feel the benefits." Not many - Wal-Mart and Crye-Leike included - have been able to avoid the blow dealt by the sliding economy in recent years. Crye-Leike has seen its overall company revenue drop from $6.1 billion in 2006 to $5.7 billion in 2007 and $4.2 billion in 2008. But there are more than a few real-estate companies that would embrace those kinds of numbers during a time when many are just trying to remain afloat. "We have been eating up big chunks of market share," Crye said. "That's the key." Despite the market conditions, Mishler said he has attracted more than 20 agents to the soon-to-open Bella Vista office. Crye-Leike recently started to spread roots in commercial real estate in northwest Arkansas and will be implementing stateof-the-art technology for its agents in 2009 that is intended to strengthen relationships, response time and further establish the company's presence. "Today, consumers have lost a lot of trust in institutions," Mishler said. "I think Crye-Leike has been built around honesty and integrity. I think that's why you're seeing the results. It's why I'm on board, and as you can see, the number of people in this room has grown considerably from 12 months ago."
Last updated Tuesday, February 3, 2009 5:23 PM CST in Business By Kim Souza THE MORNING NEWS ROGERS -- Despite a significant drop in overall company home sales, Crye-Leike Realtors have found at least one growth market: Northwest Arkansas. More than 120 Crye-Leike agents gathered at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers on Tuesday to rehash 2008 and look forward to a better 2009. As the nation's fourth-largest real estate company, Crye-Leike reported total company sales in 2008 were $4.2 billion, down 26.3 percent from a year ago, and 31.1 percent from 2006. "I know that $4.2 billion looks like a big number but there was no profit in it," owner Harold Crye said. However; one bright spot in the discussion was the progress the company said it is making in efforts to grow marketshare in Northwest Arkansas. When Crye-Leike came to town in early 2007, Crye hoped to hire 150 agents by that year's end, increasing that number to 400 by 2011. On Tuesday, he said the company has grown its agent base to 144 agents, well short of the original goal but very close to the 150-agent goal reset a year ago. "We are pleased with our growth in this region, but our original goals were compromised by the slower economy of the past year or so. That said, we are happy to be gaining regional marketshare at a time when the home sales in Benton and Washington counties were down 25.1 percent overall," Crye said. * In 2008, the company grew sales volume in Northwest Arkansas to $130 million, up 71 percent from the previous year, Crye said. He credits the healthy growth to the recruitment and hiring of additional agents in the past year. According to Moundata.com, the total regional sales volume was $935.79 million last year. That gives Crye Leike a 13.8 percent piece of the local marketshare. He said the company plans to hire 50 more agents this year and complete several building projects underway in Bella Vista, Siloam Springs and Bentonville. The company's $15 million capital spending spree on buildings in this market is an investment Crye said would pay off in time. "We have no plans to scale back in this region, it's actually doing better than other areas," Crye said. The industry is battling a two-front war fighting low consumer confidence and tighter credit requirements with respect to buyer demand, he said. On the flip side, he said sellers are facing declining home values. Conditions provide a "perfect storm" of sorts for those who earn a living selling houses. This has prompted the regional agent pool to shrink by 361 licensed agents in the past year, a 14.8 percent decline, according to Ethan Nobles, spokesman for the Arkansas Realtors Association. Statewide, Nobles said 5.2 percent, or 458 fewer agents, left the business. With 126 offices in eight states Crye-Leike has 3,574 agents. Located primarily in the south, Crye-Leike has tightened its belt and tried to control overhead costs during these challenging times, outside this region. "We have consolidated some offices in poorer performing areas of Memphis that was hit hard when the subprime loan market collapsed, when two plants closed near Springfield, Tenn. we closed an office and moved those agents to another location," Crye said. The company is not scaling back expansion efforts in Northwest Arkansas, because this market is showing resilience and outperforming other regions, he said. Crye told the group that next year they would likely look back at the presidential inauguration as the bottom of the market. "Not that we would turn up right away, but more likely run along the bottom of the trough for at least another quarter or so. I am hopeful that a stimulus to help buyers will come sooner than later," Crye said. "But until bankers want to lend again and buyers regain confidence the industry won't be able to recover."
Arkansas Business News Story By George Waldon 1/29/2009 11:03:01 AM Central Arkansas home sales during 2008 were down 10 percent for Crye-Leike Realtors. The company recorded more than $660 million in home sales during the year. Harold Crye, CEO and co-founder, announced the news at the company's Arkansas region kick-off meeting this week at the Embassy Suites Hotel in west Little Rock. "Our Arkansas agents should be pleased to be in one of the better markets in the country," Crye said. "They did very well compared to other regions." Based in Memphis, the firm operates the largest residential realty network in Arkansas. The company's central Arkansas offices are in Faulkner, Garland, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties, with franchise operations in Cleburne and White counties. Crye described 2008 as one of the most challenging housing markets since the company opened for business in 1977 and hoped things would improve this year. "We are calling 2009 a workout year for real estate expecting the market to pick up as early as May or June," he said. "With banks cutting builders back there is not a whole lot of new construction going on right now. We expect to see a shortage of homes in 2010, which will drive home values back up." Companywide, Crye-Leike agents sold 25,871 homes totaling $4.2 billion. The firm is the fourth largest real estate concern in the nation, with a network of more than 3,500 licensed sales associates based out of 126 corporate and franchise offices located in 65 counties throughout an eight-state region of Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina. Dick Leike, president and co-founder, is optimistic that historically low interest rates will help housing markets bounce back. "I have been in this business since I was 17 and haven't seen interest rates like we have now since 1960," Leike said.
RISMedia Real Estate News January 28, 2009 Leading Real Estate Companies of the World? will host its 2009 annual conference March 26-28 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, immediately preceded by the Luxury Portfolio conference March 25-26. The gathering is expected to attract members from across the country and several countries abroad. Keynoting the opening session will be Ken Lowe, president and CEO of Scripps Network Interactive and the vision behind the founding of HGTV, one of the most successful ventures in cable television. Other featured speakers will include psychologist, author and career coach Mike Staver; technology innovator Matthew Ferrara; national trainer and industry analyst Steve Harney; LeadingRE Chairman of the Board Harold Crye of Crye-Leike, Inc. and a host of talented LeadingRE member brokers, relocation directors and technology and marketing professionals, with content ranging from lead management, the brokerage of the future, and social media, to inspirational leadership, short sales and strategic right-sizing. "We cannot change the economy," remarks LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O'Connor, "but we can influence the way it is perceived and the confidence of associates, managers and consumers in housing by defining the conversation in a new way. This conference is all about the ?Power of the Bold' to actively take control and seize advantages, when many others are waiting for the clouds to pass." "International real estate forums of this nature help us make much better sense out of today's perilous business climate, stay networked to the people and events that shape other markets around the world; and keep us plugged-in to the ideas, trends and new technology that continually revolutionize our industry," says Michael Saunders, founder and president of Michael Saunders & Company, in Sarasota, FL. "I never depart these LeadingRE and Luxury Portfolio gatherings without plenty of actionable content that enables me, my management team and my associates to better anticipate the needs and mindsets of our clients and customers." For more information, visit www.LeadingRE.com. RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to: email@example.com.
Business News People In Business Tuesday, January 27, 2009 Keith Morris of Four M Land Company has been named 2008 Realtor of the Year by Memphis Area Association of Realtors. Frances Anderson of Crye-Leike was named 2008 Realtor-Associate of the Year. Mark Miesse of Mark B. Miesse & Associates received the 2008 Affiliate of the Year honor. Dick Leike of Crye-Leike received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Neil Hubbard of Prudential Collins-Maury, Regina Hubbard with Lester Hubbard Realtors, Elsie Ward with Crye-Leike, Pat Lichterman with Crye-Leike and Steve Brown with Crye-Leike all received Presidential Awards.
Reported by Jeff Ayres firstname.lastname@example.org January 25, 2009 It's tough to sell a house these days. Just ask Brandon resident J.P. Martin. He has not only seen prices plummet and inventories swell as he tries to sell his Byram home, but also must contend with a new round of payments at his new home in Rankin County. When he put the 4-year-old Byram house up for sale more than seven months ago, the asking price for the 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house was $124,900. It was lowered to $119,000 last week. More price reductions may not make a difference, Martin said, as an ongoing credit crunch makes it more difficult for many people to buy homes. "We've had quite a few people walk through and say, 'It's one of the nicest houses in the neighborhood,' but people who want to buy can't get qualified (for loans)," Martin said. His plight is being felt across the state as housing prices largely continue to fall. A Clarion-Ledger comparison of Jackson Association of Realtors sales data for the weeks of June 6 and Jan. 15 offers a glimpse at the metro-area market. The data show a majority of submarkets have seen asking prices decline while the number of days on the market rise. The data do not reflect actual sales prices, and the National Association of Realtors won't release figures for the final quarter of 2008 until March. The Flowood-Pearl and southwest markets saw the largest percentage decline in asking price at 10 and 9.5 percent, respectively. The north Jackson, Madison-Ridgeland, Crossgates-Brandon and U.S. 49 South to Florence remained flat with prices changing less than 1 percent. "We are beginning to experience the effects of the (national) housing market, not to the extent that it's being felt in other areas," says Lynette Magee-Praytor, general manager of Crye-Leike Realty's Mississippi offices. While home prices are dipping, that doesn't mean people aren't buying homes, she said. Many foreclosed homes are selling at lower prices, generally below $150,000, and that can drag down the average sales figure for a particular area, she said. A number of homes are being sold not to homebuyers but to investors who may resell them in the future, said John Jenkins, president of the Jackson Association of Realtors. Demand slips tremendously for homes at $200,000 and up, area agents and brokers said. Nationally, pricier homes are proving less popular with buyers because of higher utility costs and other expenses, Jenkins said. Michael Anthony is having trouble selling a less-expensive home in Prentiss. He bought the 1,600-square-foot house in August 2007 for $53,000. The home is 60 years old with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, high ceilings, a front porch and a small yard. Since putting his home up for sale in May, the asking price has dropped from $59,500 to $52,500. Anthony says the price may come down more if no buyers emerge. "It's a nice home for a small family," he said before conceding, "It's definitely a fixer-upper." But no one has given the home a serious look, and Anthony worries about having to hang on to it along with two homes elsewhere in the state that he plans to keep. Martin said he paid $117,750 for the Byram home in February 2007 and planned to stay there awhile. But he and his wife both have since found jobs about 45 minutes away and wanted to move closer to their workplaces. A major reason prices haven't improved across the board, Magee-Praytor says, is because lending standards have become more stringent for those seeking a home loan. Homes sales slow when fewer people can buy, she said. "The higher-dollar homes require a conventional loan or a jumbo loan" or a combination of the two, she said. But Doug Maselle, who operates Century 21 Maselle and Associates, says people are scared off by news of tightening lending practices and other dire economic trends. If someone's willing to be more disciplined financially, he says, they can buy a house for a reasonable price, even in the current economy, and lenders will work with them. "I just want to scream when I hear that," Maselle says of what he calls misconceptions that good buying opportunities are scarce. "You just pay a little higher interest rate if your (credit) score is low." Jenkins says the area's housing market likely has bottomed out, adding January is typically slow for housing activity. What's tougher to predict, he said, is whether a significant improvement in prices and sales will start later this year or next. "The Jackson market will have a quicker response," Jenkins said. "We may be here for a few more months." Maselle is encouraged by the decrease in listings on Jackson's Multiple Listing Service from about 4,900 properties last year to 3,800 this year. But he concedes some of those homes are from people pulling their homes off the market after not finding a buyer. A person with a home sitting on the market should consider many factors - such as his reason for selling and the amount he plans to spend on his next home - when trying to decide what to do, Maselle said. The options vary depending on the homeowner's situation and needs, he said. Magee-Praytor said another option is to refinance if the owner has enough equity. But both real estate professionals suggest consumer confidence is the main factor in determining when the housing market will turn around. Magee-Praytor says several provisions that could be included in a proposed national economic stimulus package may help. They include removing a repayment requirement from an already-approved $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and applying that credit to all homebuyers; making permanent FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits that are set to expire; and creating a federal mortgage interest buy-down program that would make below-market rates available to buyers. "It's a confidence issue," Magee-Praytor says. "(Homebuyers) feel like they can take a look, provided they have a good credit score and 3 percent down payment." Maselle adds consumers will feel better about buying a home if interest rates remain low, in turn helping stabilize prices. To comment on this story, call Jeff Ayres at (601) 961-7050.
Crye-Leike Realtors held its annual meeting on Thursday for its Chattanooga region offices. Nationwide, the company's agents sold 25,871 homes in 2008 valued at $4.2 billion. "The market's not what it was a year ago but there is still a lot of real estate moving," said Crye-Leike President Dick Leike. "Some agents actually did better in 2008 improving their sales totals over what they sold in 2007." CEO Harold Crye said he expects the real estate market to begin picking up in May or June "With banks cutting builders back, there is not a whole lot of new construction going on right now. We expect to see a shortage of homes in 2010 which will drive home values back up."
Crye-Leike, Realtors Chooses Fidelity National?s Transaction Management Solution - RISmedia - Real Estate News
RISMEDIA January 23, 2009 Crye-Leike?, Realtors? has chosen TransactionPoint? from Cyberhomes LLC, a division of Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 provider of products, services and technology solutions to the financial and real estate industries, as the automated transaction management solution for its 3,800 licensed sales associates in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina. According to Crye-Leike, the company conducted an extensive analysis before selecting the technology from Cyberhomes. This enterprise initiative, announced this week, is already underway. By April it will begin improving efficiency and profitability by streamlining operations and facilitating greater collaboration between Crye-Leike's real estate offices and its ancillary businesses to drive even greater capture rates to these entities. "This is the launching pad for changing the industry culture," said Gurtej Sodhi, CIO & Sr. VP for the Crye-Leike Group of Companies. "This platform will allow us to adopt processes that help move the real estate transaction towards a more efficient and paperless business environment." TransactionPoint will introduce automated transaction management to Crye-Leike's network of 126 corporate and franchise offices in 65 counties across the eight Southern states. The solution organizes, reports and secures every activity and document in a real estate transaction as it provides 24/7 access to authorized parties. By centralizing documents in a "paperless" environment, it improves accuracy and communication, while facilitating greater transparency of transaction status and adherence to regulatory compliance requirements. "Using this cutting-edge transaction management technology platform to collaborate between the real estate professional, the lender and the closer - as well as appraisers, inspectors, and all other parties - will enable Crye-Leike agents to reduce the transaction cycle time as they drastically cut the generation of paper documents," said Sodhi. "As a result, we believe the entire real estate transaction will become more transparent, giving home buyers timely insight into the status of active transactions, as well as online access to their documentation for an extended period after closing." "TransactionPoint is truly redefining how our industry transacts the business of real estate by creating collaboration among partners and reducing the volume of paper involved in the transaction," said Jay Gaskill, president, Cyberhomes, LLC. "Crye-Leike has a steep tradition of innovation and exceptional service to their customers and agents and we look forward to partnering with them as they enter the next chapter in their pursuit of operational and service excellence." Harold Crye, CEO and president of the company, describes it as their "next generation technology." "TransactionPoint will give our sales associates a great leap forward in better servicing their customers," Crye said. "It will also enable them to better engage and empower their customers from the start of the transaction, and that will be a big competitive advantage." "This is a win-win for the sales associates as well as the home buyers," he said. For more information on TransactionPoint from FNRES, or the non-proprietary document management solution, DocCentralTM, contact Walt Clark at email@example.com. RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated Thursday, January 22, 2009 5:29 PM CST in Business By Kim Souza THE MORNING NEWS SPRINGDALE -- Some distressed area homeowners have found the quality of mortgage assistance they receive depends on what language they speak. Juvinal Vega of Rogers called Chase's Spanish-speaking helpline earlier this month to try and negotiate settlement terms for a $36,000 home-equity line of credit against a home he owns in Buena Vista, Calif. Vega -- who allowed a reporter and Crye-Leike real estate agent Tayron Reynosa to eavesdrop on his call --said he was surprised to hear helpline operators say "Just pay the money or leave the keys," and "Get a second job and pay the money you owe." Three other calls made to the Spanish-speaking line got the same collection-effort responses. But it was a different story when Reynosa, acting as an interpreter for Vega, called the English-speaking helpline. "On the English-speaking line I was quickly directed to the loss mitigation department for possible settlement options. Not a single time did anyone answering the Spanish-speaking line offer to transfer me to loss mitigation," Reynosa said. Vega and Reynosa continue to work with Chase's loss mitigation department to negotiate a settlement. Chase, a commercial banking division of JPMorgan Chase & Co., recently announced it extended its mortgage modification efforts -- $1.1 trillion of loans -- to expand the reach and effectiveness of programs already under way. "All Chase mortgage customers have the option of either speaking with a Spanish-speaking representative or (if none is unavailable) using the Language Line where a third party comes on to translate," Chase spokesman Thomas E. Kelly said in an e-mail. He said the calls are monitored. A phone call and several e-mails were made to Kelly, who added that "I am glad that we were ultimately able to help the customer." He asked for Vega's loan information so that the problems reported could be researched. Kelly said the bank would look at ways to improve the process, if needed. Reynosa and others say Chase and other large lenders are not equipped to handle the huge volume of calls they are getting. On several calls made by Vega, he was put on hold for an average of 20 minutes before getting to speak with a live person. ABC's Nightline reported Wednesday that many callers are finding the process cumbersome. California Congresswoman Maxine Waters endured waits of up to two hours when trying to intercede on behalf of three of her constituents seeking problem mortgage assistance. "It's a mess and it's getting worse, not better," said Nancy Bolin, director for the Economic Opportunity Agency of Washington County. EOA provides housing assistance to low-income families and teaches first-time homebuyers classes in both English and Spanish. Reynosa suspects Spanish-speaking call centers are not properly supervised by qualified loss mitigators, but instead are manned by low-paid hourly workers who basically read a script and can give no real advice or options for help. Several years ago, Reynosa worked as a loss mitigator and collector for a California-based mortgage servicing company and said non-English-speaking call centers can operate more like third-party collection agencies than actual help centers. Chase Bank declined to say if it used third-party call centers to help service Spanish-speaking customers. Reynosa has recently been trying to help Veronica Perea of Springdale get her mortgage loan modified to avoid foreclosure. But he ran into similar problems when dialing a Spanish-speaking call center located in Florida for OCWEN, a mortgage loan servicing company. OCWEN did not return two messages left Wednesday and Thursday. "The workers on the Spanish-speaking line could not give me any information on the loan. Only after I spoke English to someone was I told to contact another number," Reynosa said. He called an English-speaking help center run by OCWEN that is located in Mumbai, India. That call center was able to put Reynosa in contact with the proper loss mitigation department, also being handled in India. "If I didn't speak English, I would still be running in circles," Reynosa said. Reynosa said he mailed and faxed the complicated financial worksheets for Perea to OCWEN three different times, and each time was told the necessary paperwork had not been received. "It's very frustrating and something needs to be done," Reynosa said. "What a problem," said J.P Sexton, president of the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "When these homeowners purchased their homes there was likely a Realtor or friend or family member present to help answer questions, but when these homeowners have to use the telephone, I can see where it could get messy." He said loans made two or three years ago could have been sold several times and homeowners behind in their mortgage have to go to the proper serving agent to get their loan modified. Maribel Tapia, a housing counselor with the EOA of Washington County, maintains that many Hispanics are not getting the help that is out there because they cannot speak English. "I too, have found that the workers answering the Spanish-speaking helplines are often not qualified loss mitigators. Some of them barely speak Spanish and prefer to speak English," Tapia said. Tapia claims many call centers are just third-party collection agencies with no authority to modify home loans or grant forbearance. She said having to resend documents three and four times is the norm, not the exception, and fears many homeowners will simply give up. Tapia is also concerned that several local minority homeowners have been contacted by online mortgage counselors charging from $500 to $1,200 to intercede on behalf of the distressed homeowners. "There is no need for anyone to pay for these services. Distressed homeowners, Latino and otherwise, should seek the free services of local nonprofit organizations like the EOA for help," Tapia said.
Now in its third season, the show captures the buying process for this young couple, moving from Memphis to Chattanooga, and with just three days to find a dream home. Little did Dottie realize back in September 2008, just how amazing the home buying process would turn out to be for her clients Jeffrey and Emily Maddux. The newlywed couple buying their first home in Chattanooga was going to have it "start-to-finish," captured for the TLC cable network reality TV show. "I heard that the TLC network show was looking for interesting stories and I immediately thought Emily & Jeffrey would be perfect," said Dottie. "They're a great couple that was moving from Memphis to Chattanooga and had only three days to find their dream home. I loved them and the show loved them too and realized their situation would make a great story." The My First Home 30-minute episode, featuring Dottie, Jeffrey and Emily, will make its broadcast premier on Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. (EST) on the TLC cable network. It's the story of a couple moving from Memphis back to be near their families across the state in Chattanooga. But with their lease up on their rental, and a vacation just around the corner, they have just three days to find the perfect house. "My ultimate goal with Emily & Jeffery was to make the process as stress free as possible," said Dottie. "We all enjoyed the experience, even with the added involvement of the production team capturing the whole experience on video. It was so exciting." In each half-hour episode of My First Home, viewers get to meet a prospective buyer as they seek out a place to call their own. From touring the real estate and picking out the perfect house, to waiting through escrow, to the final exchange of keys, viewers get to follow these real estate novices through the highs and lows of buying a first home. "Many first time homebuyers have a tendency to apologize when they can't find their dream home quickly," said Dottie. "This is a huge commitment so they need to know that it has to be the best home for their needs and budget and sometimes this takes time." Dottie puts a lot of her own TLC to work with first time homebuyers. She's been helping people buy and sell homes in the region for years and her experience in real estate goes back a lot longer working many years with her husband, Stan, and his custom home building company "Dream Builders." Dottie knows the process of construction and buying a home from foundation to closing. "The first process in home buying is to be pre-qualified from a lender to knowing what price range to consider," said Dottie. "When beginning to search for their dream home we need to distinguish between the buyers wants, needs and what they can realistically afford. Looking for homes without this process can become very discouraging for the buyer so you have to start right." Dottie is a licensed realtor in Tennessee and Georgia, working with buyers and sellers throughout the Greater Chattanooga, East Tennessee and North Georgia Region. She specializes in all types of residential real estate sales with a focus on first time homebuyers, new construction, relocation and investment properties. Dottie is a member of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors (CAR), Tennessee Association of Realtors (TAR), Georgia Association of Realtors (GAR) and National Association of Realtors (NAR). "I am passionate about real estate," said Dottie. "I invite everyone to join with me and celebrate homeownership and try to tune in and watch Chattanooga newcomers Jeffrey & Emily Maddox go through the ups and downs of finding and buying their first home in the city." The episode will also be frequently rebroadcast on the TLC Network. For program information go to http://tlc.discovery.com/tv/my-first-home/my-first-home.html and click on the TV schedule link to find weekly show schedules. Dottie is based out of the Crye-Leike downtown Chattanooga branch office located at 1201 Market St.
Harold Crye Says Real Estate Will Have To Help Lead U.S. Out Of The Recession - From the chattanoogan.com
Reported by The Chattanoogan.com posted January 20, 2009 Crye-Leike, Realtors co-founder and CEO Harold Crye said in Chattanooga on Tuesday the real estate industry helped lead the U.S. into the current recession and will have to help lead the U.S. out of the recession. Mr. Crye spoke at the company's 2009 Chattanooga kickoff meeting at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club. He spoke about the challenges facing Crye-Leike and the real estate industry in 2009. He also outlined the goals for the company for 2009. Mr. Crye started by saying, "The best thing we can say about 2008 is: thank God it is over." He talked about 10 goals for Crye-Leike for 2009. Financially the company's goals are not as high as they were three years ago, when total sales exceeded $5 billion. Yet he said the goals are higher than what the company made in 2008 because they believe that U.S. economy will start to bounce back in 2009. Mr. Crye said the company will focus on different avenues that can offer profitability. This includes focusing on the Internet as a main outlet to reach customers, focusing on Real Estate Owned (REO) Sales, and branching out to residential property management as a source of income. He said the company will "continue to do things that we think are necessary" to return to profitability. He said that the company has about 10% fewer agents than it had a year ago.
Crye-Leike CEO & Founder Harold Crye Says Inauguration Good for Real Estate - WDEF News 12 Chattanooga
Submitted by Rene? LaSalle January 20, 2009 - 4:42pm. News | Consumer News Tuesday's change of administration could mean good things for the real estate market. That's from the CEO and Founder of Crye-Leike Realtors. He was in town today for the company's 2009 kick-off meeting. Harold Crye says the real estate market will start to turn around with-in the next year. He says the change in administration is the fresh start the industry needs. He says congress will get the ball rolling to stimulate the economy and increase consumer confidence, "Real estate's what got us into the problem, with the sub-prime loans, and real estate's what's gonna lead us out." Crye also expects credit to free back up in the next year.
Bought at auction, distinctive building pleases neighbors By Angela Patterson THE TENNESSEAN January 19, 2009 A decade ago, a little white ranch house occupied the corner of Hillsboro Pike and Overhill Drive. When Scott Dube and Mark Whitefield purchased the lot at auction three years ago, Crye-Leike Realtor Lisa Byrd said several ideas were thrown around as to what the corner would become: a bank, a retirement village, a retail venue. But the owners were perfectly happy to turn it into the home of The Alexander, a multi-million-dollar condominium development that may offer some competition for properties such as The Whitney and Belle Meade Court. "The neighbors rallied not to have commercial at this corner, because of the impact on the neighborhood," said Byrd, who's selling units at the Alexander. "From the response I've heard, the neighbors have been very pleased about what was built." Traditional Design Wanted The seven units in The Alexander range from 1,500 to 2,350 square feet. Each unit has walnut-stained hardwood floors, custom maple cabinets, heated bathroom floors, custom-tiled 4-foot showers with adjustable jets and fully equipped gourmet kitchens. Rather than the urban, industrial look of some of the downtown condos, these units are more traditional in design, offering the feel of a single-family home in a condo building. "It was very important to keep in line with the design of the condos," said interior designer Jane Greenway. "A lot of thought went into tile selection. It was important to make it different in every unit, but yet make it neutral enough to fit in anyone's color scheme." Barry Huckabee of Huckabee Associates Architecture said Metro Codes mandates led to the building's tiered appearance. "The owners wanted a Florida or Mediterranean style design for the exterior," Huckabee said. "But the building was rather stark because of the setback requirements, and we tried to soften it up with the colors and the stone." Greenway thinks the colors used on the exterior and the trim blend with the architectural look. "Everyone sees the building because of the different architecture, but I think it blends in ? it's a subtle look," Greenway said. Units Could Be Leased The cost of the units range from $750,000 to $1.2 million. Byrd said that while the first quarter of 2009 may be a little slow for sales, she expects it to pick up as the year goes on. "We may end up leasing the whole thing," said Dube, who will purchase one of the units as a second home for his family. "Interest rates are great right now, and we're not in a hurry to sell them." Byrd expects the property will be popular with empty nesters and retirees looking for a smaller space, but also with executives who may travel frequently and don't have the time for maintenance required on a single family home. "Fifty percent of buyers here won't need a loan," Byrd said. "They often have money from the sale of a home somewhere else. Here they can downsize, but still live the lifestyle they're used to."
Study evaluates top brokers' SEO practices - from Inman News, Where Real Estate & Technology Connect
Some companies miss the boat in boosting search rankings By Inman News, Friday, January 16, 2009. Find Inman News on the web at www.inman.com PCMS Consulting has released a study that examines how 50 of the largest real estate brokerage companies -- based on RealTrends data -- are using search-engine optimization. The study, by SEO consultant Randi Thornton, evaluated traffic ranking, search terms, Google page rank, number of pages indexed by Google, meta descriptions, page titles, and Web site validation errors. The study found that about six out of 50 Web sites studied achieved a top SEO ranking on Google, and GMAC Real Estate's Web site for company-owned operations incorporated the highest number of keywords terms that rank highest on Google. "Keywords must be your Web site's foundation," according to the study, which also found that NRT LLC (Realogy Corp's company-owned operations) scored high for top Google keyword terms ranked. Web sites for Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Crye-Leike Realtors, John L. Scott Real Estate, Hanna Holdings Inc., Long & Foster Cos. Inc., Northwood Realty Services, Prudential Georgia Realty, and Ebby Halliday, Realtors, also had comparatively high numbers of top keyword terms ranked among the study group of Web sites. PCMS maintains that many companies are neglecting SEO strategies, which can boost online traffic. SEO is one of the services PCMS offers to real estate companies. Thornton said in a statement that the study is intended to help real estate professionals who champion SEO convince decision makers within their company to reallocate money that's now spent on traditional marketing to promoting their Web sites.
Prices Could Go Up In 2010, Says Harold Crye Reported By Dennis Ferrier POSTED: 6:16 pm CST January 13, 2009 NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's biggest realtor has released all of its 2008 numbers for middle Tennessee, along with some candid comments about 2009 and the value of homes. It has always been a business for go-getters -- with optimism, image and attitude as top requirements for realtors -- but 2008 tested that. "It's not what it was the year before. That's true," said Harold Crye. Middle Tennessee sales alone were down enough to cause some real issues, and 2009 starts right where 2008 left off. "We brought in, to pay our bills, about $30 million less," said Dick Leike. "The first quarter is probably going to be the toughest," Crye said. "We're in a workout year, the way we look at it. We saw what happened in '08, and '08 was not a good year for anybody." But Crye-Leike believes things will get better as early as May or June. Low interest rates are leading a surge in refinancing; couple that with some unexpected help for sellers. "We believe that when we get into sometime in 2010 that there will be a shortage and run the prices back up again," said Crye. The last couple of years, Crye-Leike has had Tennessee Titans cheerleaders and marching bands kick off the new year; this year, a singing realtor -- a cutback for an industry that was one of the first indicators of the economic slowdown that now hopes to be one of the first back, breaking records. On Monday, Crye-Leike signed off on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage for 4.375 percent -- the lowest mortgage the company has seen since 1960. Got a story idea? E-mail newstips to email@example.com or call the newsroom 24/7 at 615-353-2231.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009, 2:02pm CST Memphis Business Journal - by By Andy Ashby Staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org | 901-259-1732 If 2008 was a rough year for residential real estate, it didn't show at the 32nd annual Crye-Leike Realtor Kick-off, held this morning at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn. After opening its meeting with a live version of "La Bamba," Crye-Leike Inc. general manager Steve Brown told the crowd that the company had $4.2 billion in sales across eight states for 2008, a result of 25,871 property closings last year. But that figure is down significantly from the company's previous years. The company recorded sales of $5.7 billion on 32,500 unit closings in 2007, reflecting a 26% sales volume decrease from 2007 to 2008. Sales were $6.1 billion on 35,498 unit closings in 2006, $5.6 billion on 34,039 closings in 2005 and $4.61 billion on 29,581 closings in 2004. The 2008 figure included $1.3 billion in company sales in the Memphis area. Comparatively, Crye-Leike recorded $2 billion in 2007 Memphis area sales volume and $2.1 billion in 2006. Brown also reviewed Crye-Leike's goals from last year. The company started, and then delayed, construction of its new Oakland/Fayette County office and its Midtown office on Madison Avenue. Those projects are expected to be completed this year. Crye-Leike also expanded its Arlington office last year. For 2008, the company's Web traffic was up 14%, possibly a result of its focus on more Internet advertising and less newspaper advertising. Brown said that for 2009, the company has a goal of $1.4 billion in local sales. It will also focus its Realtor education on financing options, appraisals, government-sponsored programs and incentives for customers. The company is also adding its listings to Yahoo and real estate Web site Frontdoor. Crye-Leike recognized several Realtors through its "Circle of Excellence," including Barbara Becker, Terry Boyd, Rick Deegler, Loura Edmondson, Jan Gordon, Debra Hood, Clare Maness, Terry Pera, Landra Pryor and LaQuinta Rucker. Based in Memphis, Crye-Leike Realtors is the nation's fourth largest real estate firm. It has 1,100 agents in the Memphis area with its largest offices in Memphis and Nashville. email@example.com | 259-1732
Submitted by Nordia Epps - WDEF News 12 January 2, 2009 - 10:12pm The New Year may be the prime time to buy a new home. Area realtors say the housing crisis paves the way for some huge deals. It's the bright side to the troubled housing market. A four bedroom Hixson house will soon be home to Ken and Ann Harris. Ken Harris, "I plan on closing on a house within 30 days with a very competitive interest rate on my house that's very favorable to me. It's almost comparable to what I had before." In around 4 months the two sold their home in Huntsville Alabama. Harris, "I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to work for Volkswagen." And, with help from Crye-Leike realtor Gini Thompson, found just the right deal in Chattanooga. Thompson, "They're the move up buyers. It's not their first home but it's been a while since they did purchase a home." Thompson says whether you're moving up, buying for the first time or investing there are great deals to be had. Thompson, "A lot of people have been sitting on the fence post and I think with the interest rates staying low, below 5 percent even, if you've got good credit scores, you're ready. " Plus, she says some sellers offer discounts of anywhere from 10 to 30 thousand dollars in the Chattanooga area. Thompson, "This market I think is really going to open up. After the first of the year, now, is a really good time for buyers." The Chattanooga Association of Realtors reports the median home price for November fell to $123,500. It's the lowest reported for the year and 10 percent lbelow last November's. Harris, "We've actually witnessed prices go down as we watched homes so the prices seem to continue to go down as time goes on." Thompson says now's also the time for sellers to put their homes on the market, if they want to increase their chances of getting an offer around March.
ERIC SMITH | The Daily News The housing slump continued to take a toll on the real estate profession as membership in the Memphis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) reached a three-and-a-half year low in December with just 4,599 members. That year-end mark represented a 12 percent decline from the 5,231 members on the roll in December 2007 and is the lowest total since the June 2005 tally of 4,581 members, according to MAAR data. Also, the average monthly membership in the state's largest real estate trade association was 4,854 in 2008, down 8 percent from 5,266 in 2007. Because home sales continued to slide all year, the attrition of members was expected, noted MAAR marketing and communications director Scott Sherrin. "Given where we are in terms of sales numbers, I don't think it's surprising given the environment we're in," he said. "We had planned for a dropoff in membership. It's part of the cyclical nature of this industry, and we've seen it before. As things pick up again, we'll see those numbers start to creep up again." Weeding things down For Realtor numbers to creep back up again, sales might need to make a serious upswing. Shelby County saw just 9,681 non-bank home sales through Nov. 30, a 34.8 percent decline from 14,847 in the same period of 2007 and a 50.9 percent decline from 19,735 in the same period of 2006, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com. The total sales volume in terms of dollar amount for the year's first 11 months was $1.68 billion, down significantly from $2.69 billion in 2007 and also from $3.45 billion in 2006, meaning the pie was much smaller for Realtors. Sue Turner, managing broker of Crye-Leike Realtors Inc.'s Germantown office, said the reduction of Realtors in response to the dwindling sales numbers is a healthy return to normalcy after the torrid sales pace - and swelling of Realtors - that occurred in the mid-2000s. "This is a good thing for the market because we were having so many people get into this business on a monthly basis who really thought this was just a ?take orders' type thing like it was for two or three years and that everybody and their brother could buy a house," she said. The decline in overall membership is attributed primarily to the departure of Realtor-associates, those who are relatively new to the profession, as opposed to Realtors, who are fully licensed brokers and allowed to manage their own firm. Sherrin said MAAR typically sees a lion's share of departures from the business among Realtor-associates because they haven't yet invested the same commitment of time and resources into their careers as Realtors. "It goes back to the years of experience, the years in the business," Sherrin said. "The people who got into it within the last couple of years when the times were good, those are the ones that are usually the first to leave the business when things get particularly difficult." Finding a niche Despite a host of real estate professionals jumping ship in 2008, Tammie Ross saw the chaotic housing market as an ideal time to begin her career as an associate with Turner's Crye-Leike office. Ross, who started as an associate four months ago, sees vast investment opportunities in today's climate. She figures the market is bound to turn around as investors snatch up properties so she is targeting them as a niche market. "Everything is cyclical, so I know it's going to turn around," Ross said. "I'm one who likes to get in when the numbers are down so I can be a part of it when it starts to boom." Another reason Ross broke into the business was to learn the ins and outs so she too can become a savvy investor. That's why she has placed an emphasis on real estate education during these first few months of her career. "During '08 I really wanted to educate myself, really learn how to do the business, so that has been my focus," Ross said. "I'm really pumped up for '09. I feel as if I'm now armed with the tools needed to be successful in this. I'm really looking forward to the future." Her outlook might be the right one to have in an industry whose ranks have been decimated. As most professionals point out, earning designations - such as the ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) or CRB (Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager) - can be advantageous when things are slow. Realtors with no designations have a median income of $33,200 while Realtors with at least one designation have a median income of $67,900, based on 2008 member survey data from the National Association of Realtors. "It may seem difficult for members out there that are struggling to get business in a down market," Sherrin said. "It may be hard to see the value of that education, but it really is a perfect time when you're not as busy with clients and working on transactions to take the time to get those designations or at least take some additional education courses." Chandler Reports is a division of The Daily News Publishing Co.
Reported by - The Tennessean www.tennessean.com BRENTWOOD ? Crye-Leike, Realtors is predicting that the economic slowdown could affect other companies and individual Realtors, and has named a new vice president to handle resulting mergers and acquisitions. "In the current economic climate, it's clear a growing number of real estate companies and individual Realtors are having a difficult time sustaining a level of transaction to remain in business," said Brandon Patrick, the company's new vice president and director of mergers & acquisitions in the state of Tennessee. "It's our hope, based on Crye-Leike's strong position throughout Tennessee, we can engage with other companies and individuals that may desire the stability and support that our company can offer them at this time." Patrick, a Franklin resident, will be based out of Crye-Leike's Middle Tennessee regional headquarters located at 5111 Maryland Way in Brentwood. He has 15 years of residential real estate sales and management experience, most recently as Principal Broker with EXIT Premiere Realty in Franklin. Prior to that he served in the same capacity for more than a decade at ReMax Elite in Franklin. "I am very excited in the direction that Crye-Leike, Realtors is going and I'm honored to work in such a positive and supportive environment that exudes high professionalism," Patrick said in a Crye-Leike press release. "In the coming months I will be identifying real estate firms in Tennessee that may be the right fit for a merger of acquisition into the Crye-Leike family." Patrick specializes in residential sales, and is an Accredited Buyers Representative Manager, Certified Residential Specialist, Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager, Certified Marketing Professional, Certified New Home Sales Professional and a Certified Real Estate Sales Coach. He is a member of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors, Tennessee Association of Realtors and National Association of Realtors. Patrick and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters, Sarah Beth (14), and Caroline (10). He's a Vanderbilt women's basketball fan, enjoys watching his children play sports and is a past coach and sponsor of the Williamson County Soccer Association. Brandon attends the People's Church in Franklin. Patrick can be contacted at 615-373-2044, Brandon.Patrick@ crye-leike.com. or BrandonPatrick.com.
By Cassandra Kimberly 529-2786 Memphis Commercial Appeal Tuesday, December 30, 2008 As 2008 winds to a close, some real estate professionals are looking ahead in hopes of a different turn of events in 2009. "We're preferring to look forward and not backward because 2008 has been the most challenging year since we've been in business," said Harold Crye, co-founder of Crye-Leike Realtors Inc. Marked by the consequences of predatory lending practices, job loss, and the declaration of an official recession, the housing market nationally has dipped far below the normal "valleys" and hard times. "Maybe it's just optimism, but most Realtors feel like we can't go down any further," Crye said. "Most of us feel like we've bottomed out, and we're running along the bottom of the trough right now." As seen through most of the year, homes sales were down again last month by 31.2 percent from November 2007, according to the Memphis Area Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service. Year-to-date sales totaled 12,643, down 19.5 percent from the same period last year. Active listings declined for the sixth straight month, sliding 2.7 percent from October 2008 and 12 percent from November 2007 showing a decrease in new inventory on the market. "The new inventory is coming down because home builders are putting up fewer starts," said Jules Wade, executive vice president for MAAR. "We're gradually going through the inventory with fewer homes coming on the market, but a lot of it is eating through the foreclosure properties." Though foreclosures are starting to be absorbed, the mass numbers still on the market have brought down home values across the board. According to MAAR's November report, year-over-year median sales price declined 13.1 percent to $119,000. Average sales prices declined 14.9 percent to $148,000 over the same time in 2007. A mix of low rates, low prices and tax credits are presenting opportunities for some investors and even first-time homebuyers, Wade said. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors released in November, the percentage of first-time homebuyers in the overall Memphis market increased from 39 percent in 2007 to 41 percent in the first half of 2008. The results were compiled from 133,000 surveys mailed between July 2007 and June 2008. For those who were able to buy a home, 2008 was dominated by people "going back to the basics" and buying within their means, Wade said. "Over the past year, there is a much larger than usual number of homes that have sold under the $100,000 price range," he said. "People are realizing they have to be sensible in how much home they buy." Due to rising foreclosures and job losses in 2008, the multifamily housing market began to see an upswing in occupancy, rents, construction and absorption by the third quarter. "There's a larger percentage of new households that are renting," said Tom Grimes, executive vice president and director of property management operations for Mid-America Apartment Communities. Apartment occupancy was up slightly by third quarter from the end of 2007 reaching 90.5 percent, according to the latest CB Richard Ellis Memphis Multi-Housing Marketview report. While the economy is volatile, the Memphis multi-family housing market remains stable, said Blake Pera, senior vice president with CBRE. Since 2005, marketwide occupancy has hovered roughly between 88 and 91.5 percent. By the third quarter, average rents increased by $16 from fourth-quarter 2007, leveling out at $706 per unit monthly. Though the market turnaround is expected to be slow, all signs indicate that Memphis should be one of the first markets to bounce back as production increases. "The new units recently leased up have performed well," Pera said. "The multifamily market should hold its own because the pipeline of new supply has slowed greatly." In the third quarter, 213 units were delivered to the market, bringing total deliveries to 904. Little construction and few investment sales are expected in 2009 as was seen through 2008 compared to previous years. "The continued tightening in capital markets combined with investor concerns about the economy practically dried up transactions in practically every market across the country this year," Pera said. "And it has obviously impacted sales in Memphis in all commercial categories."
View The Story @ www.myeyewitnessnews.com Reported by: Lacey Crisp Email:LCrisp@MyEyewitnessNews.com Last Update: 9:43 am RALEIGH, TN - There were more than 1,200 home foreclosures in Shelby County in the month of November. One realty company is trying to help people out of that situation. "I like this neighborhood, the quietness, and peaceful. That's what I really like about the area," said Dorothy Rayford. Rayford bought her Raleigh home 6 years ago. Back then her interest rate was 10 percent and she was working full-time. Now she's retired, and her interest rate has jumped to 12 percent. She says she's struggling to make her mortgage payments. A program called, "Save the Dream." may save her from foreclosure. But Rayford might not be able to stay here. She has been late on mortgage payments, and hasn't paid three months worth of payments. "I just got in a situation where my income decreased and my house note increased," Rayford said. "This is my plight right now. I'm in the process to negotiate to get my interest rate down." Now she's doing all she can to stay in her Raleigh home. "It's stressful not knowing and not having a sound matter of what's happening next. It's frustrating," Rayford said. She called her realtor, James Kincaide with Crye-Leike. He told her about the "Save the Dream" program. He said the biggest mistake homeowners make is that they don't try to work out a deal with their lender. "Answer the phone and talk to them," Kincaide said. "It's the key thing to talk to them because they would really like to figure out a way to not take this property back." Kincaide said there many different ways to prevent a foreclosure. Realtors can help you talk with loss mitigation to cut down your interest rates. That will help people like Rayford cut their monthly payment down. If you can't avoid foreclosure, they can help with a "friendly" foreclosure. That's where you avoid going to court and settle with the bank. They can also reschedule your loan payments, which would add missed payments and penalties to the end of your loan, and extend the length of the loan. Sometimes they can erase penalties for late or missed payments. They can have a short sale, where you find a buyer. Kincaide said the benefit is many times investors will buy the home, and the original owner can lease the home. Rayford said, "I'm just thankful they are trying to help."
By Cassandra Kimberly, 529-2786 Memphis Commercial Appeal Wednesday, December 24, 2008 Carolyn Ragland loves to entertain -- especially at Christmas. With fond memories of Christmas parties hosted in her childhood home, the Memphis native does her best to re-create a similar atmosphere during her favorite holiday. Decorated top to bottom, her 9,000-square-foot, custom-built home in East Memphis is filled with friends and family for holiday celebrations. But many guests may never realize how deep Ragland's affection for Christmas runs unless they look behind an 11-foot pair of French doors in the center of 6020 Wild Oaks Drive. In what Ragland and her husband, David, call the "Christmas tree room," Dec. 25 is literally celebrated all year long. "When we went to LRK (Looney Ricks Kiss architects), we had them design the four floors around this room," Ragland said. From floor to ceiling, the closet is lined with shelves filled with ornaments, garland, snowmen, and in the center a fully decorated Christmas tree ready to be "rolled out" and placed in a corner of the hearth room. The "room" was designed to fit the tree and holiday items so Ragland didn't have to wait for her children to visit to decorate. "I wasn't going to have any discussions with my husband about decorating the tree," Ragland said, laughing. The $1.5 million abode was built and designed with the help of Ragland's father, Jim Cirtain, in 2002. The house in River Oaks subdivision took about 18 months to complete, according to the retired general contractor, now 85. The five-bedroom, Georgian-style house was built with everything on Ragland's wish list -- five fireplaces, four stories, three specialty rooms (sunroom, exercise room and a library) and two offices. While the house may not have a partridge in a pear tree, it does have a Spanish cedar wine cellar hand-built by Cirtain. But while so many luxuries were taken into account, above all else there was one condition during the building process: "We had to design it around the Christmas closet," Cirtain said. Recently, though with some hesitation, Ragland and her husband decided to put the lavish home up for sale. Like many from the baby boomer generation, the couple is looking to downsize their space. "The house just kept getting bigger and bigger," she said. According to a survey released in November by the National Association of Home Builders, one in four baby boom generation households expects to move from their current home. The majority are looking for a single-level home that is more comfortable or convenient, according to the survey prepared for AARP. But for those that have the means and the desire to build a custom home, the demand for spaces such as a wine room, billiard room, or even mud rooms for pets aren't uncommon, said Carson Looney, principal of Memphis-based LRK architects. Though lessening in popularity, special-function rooms such as home offices, in-law suites and game rooms are still desired by homeowners, according to the American Institute of Architects' second-quarter 2008 Home Design Trends survey. "When you think of what people spend on their hunting gear or bicycles, if they add up all of their stuff it's sometimes more than their car," he said. "It's with that kind of thing that people are actually saying 'I want to appropriately house my active life attributes.' " But with all of the requests Looney has had over the years, the Christmas tree room LRK helped design stands out, he said. "When you design a custom home, they are relatively the same as a normal home, but you have the ability to accommodate your special and unique desires and needs," he said. "Certainly, the Christmas tree room is unique."
Friday, December 19, 2008 Agents battle for business amid new landscape Nashville Business Journal - by Jenny Burns Staff Writer Efforts to lure home buyers with tax credits and lower interest rates aren't working. Home values are dropping, and foreclosures are rising. Last month, Nashville's home sales fell to levels not seen in more than 15 years. Local real estate experts called it an aberration, but national experts are predicting a dismal forecast for housing next year. The mounting bad economic news that's keeping buyers on the fence has pushed Middle Tennessee real estate brokers to shuffle their strategy: cut staff, consolidate offices and watch as agents flee the industry. Meanwhile, others are taking an aggressive stance, calling on agents to focus on the growing foreclosure market and adding divisions to gobble up smaller firms that are struggling. November's 45 percent plunge in home sales means real estate agents are competing for a piece of a pie that's half the size of what it was last year, says Harold Crye, CEO of Crye-Leike Realtors. And half of the homes that are selling are foreclosures. "We have buyers who say ?I don't want to see anything except a foreclosure.' The existing home market is really suffering," Crye says. The company's best seller this year was a Memphis foreclosure agent with 318 sales. Preparing for an even tighter market, Crye-Leike just added a position to focus on buying smaller real estate agencies. The firm hired real estate veteran Brandon Patrick as the new mergers and acquisitions director to scout potential deals. "In the current economic climate, it's clear a growing number of real estate companies and individual Realtors are having a difficult time sustaining a level of transactions to remain in business," Patrick says. Even Crye-Leike is cutting back. Crye says he shrunk his Cool Springs and Hermitage offices by 2,600 square feet to cut expenses. He also cut staff that handled fliers and mailers since most agents use email now. The heads of the largest real estate firms in Nashville say 2009 likely will find fewer agents in the market and even lower sales, with an expected flattening or slight increase by the second or third quarter. "What we're planning on for next year is no increase, and if anything, a small amount of decrease (in sales)," says David Barnes, owner of Coldwell Banker Barnes, who is budgeting for another low sales year in 2009. Nationally, experts aren't predicting much of a real estate recovery until 2010 or 2011. "The condition of the industry is pretty bad and outlook for 2009 is dismal," says Bernard Helm, president of Market Opportunity Research Enterprises in Rocky Mount, N.C. Nashville's market is about average among the Southeastern cities that Helm charts. The sales doldrums has done something many real estate agents were hoping to see: drive competitors out of the business. "For a long time we've needed a cleansing in the marketplace. I've looked forward to this," says Robb Campbell, owner of Re/Max Elite, adding that his agency is cutting expenses and consolidating positions and offices. Agents have several pricy payments with board dues and insurance that are due at the end of the year. Campbell says that deadline likely will push out those who are wavering on whether to stay in the industry. Still, local real estate CEOs hope that just as Nashville was late to the real estate bust ? about a year after many cities ? it could be among the first to recover. Their reasoning: Nashville's diverse economy, and home prices haven't dropped as much as the double-digit declines elsewhere. The median price of a single family home in Nashville fell 8 percent in November compared to last year. Realtors hope consumers' moods will change with the inauguration of a new president, dropping mortgage rates and another anticipated economic stimulus package. The $7,500 tax credit that was supposed to lure first time homebuyers failed to serve as much of a motivator, so experts say it's going to take extremely low interest rates to see sales stabilize. Rates dropped again last week to about 5.15 percent nationally.
Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008 , 12:01 a.m. By Reporter Jason Reynolds Email: jreynolds@TimesFreePress.com Although families work together in many industries, real estate is perhaps one of the most family-oriented professions, some real estate agents say. "Being an independent contractor is tough ... but it's easier with family," said Carol Craig, a broker with Crye-Leike Realtors who works with her son, Jay, in a team known as the Craig Group. Numerous area real estate offices have up to three generations working together, and some agents say their children grow up wanting to join the family business. Family members know each other's strengths and weaknesses and can help each other compensate, Mrs. Craig said. For example, her son is a better organizer, she said, and she has more than two decades' experience to her son's one decade of experience. Family members are more likely to pick up the slack if the other needs to devote time to family matters, said Mrs. Craig, co-manager of Crye-Leike's East Brainerd office. She was part of a real estate partnership in Florida, and says nonrelatives were not always as willing to help out. At some companies, more than two family members work together. ReMax Properties North is owned by the Shipley family. The principal broker, Sheila Shipley, has been in the business nearly 30 years. Her husband, Jimmy, died on Dec. 8. He co-owned the company and worked there after retiring from DuPont as an electrician, and also owned numerous rental properties and handled foreclosed properties for ReMax. Sheila's son, Aaron, works with her on the Real Estate Superpowers team. Aaron Shipley said his two older brothers, Heath and Travis, help in the business, as does his uncle, Rob Shipley. "I was warned by several that I would not be able to work with my family," Aaron Shipley said. "This could not be further from the truth. I feel very fortunate and blessed." Mr. Shipley said that it is a blessing to work with his father, and that his father instilled such values in him as keeping his word and enjoying work. Nathan Walldorf says he is carrying on the family tradition of working in real estate. His grandfather, Herman Walldorf, founded Herman Walldorf & Co. Inc., which his father and uncle own. His sister worked there before she was married. "It's been a lot of fun working with my dad (Charlie Walldorf)," Mr. Walldorf said. "I've been learning from him ... and we support each other." Realty Executives of Chattanooga is home to another large real estate family: Broker Elwynn Schwartz, her mother, Bettye Harrison, and daughter, Karen Riede. "It feels like a big extended family rather than just a business," Mrs. Schwartz said. Mrs. Harrison said she started in the industry in 1956 as a secretary and bookkeeper for a real estate agent. She earned her license in 1961 and has served twice as president of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors. Now, she works with her daughter and granddaughter. BUSINESS BENEFITS Mrs. Schwartz also says that working with family brings benefits. Her mother has accumulated five decades of industry knowledge, and her daughter is good with technology. One Realtor says that family members also provide a large degree of trust in handling business affairs. "That's the No. 1 positive," said Sabrena Turner, co-owner of Help-U-Sell Today Realty. "You think more alike. You have your differences, which is good. But we always see eye-to-eye." Ms. Turner owns the firm with her brother, Brent Severs, and mother, Brenda Turner. Mr. Severs said that clients have told them they like working with a brother-sister team, which is unusual in Chattanooga. "People view us as an underdog versus the big corporations," he said. "They know we have a stake in it and it's not just a paycheck." Mrs. Craig said she agrees, because she and her son just closed a deal where the client found them on the Internet and liked the fact that they are a family team. Working together can have one drawback at times, Mr. Craig said: Finding time off. The Craigs have to make time for vacations with their own families and make sure those vacations don't turn into working vacations, he said. Technology has made that harder to do. But, sharing similar vocations helps spouses understand when you're working long hours, said Teresa Boyer-Young, broker-owner of Best Realty GMAC. Her husband, Robert Young, is vice president of sales at Rarity Communities Inc., a developer of high-end developments. "We understand each other's schedules," she said. "Spouses outside the industry may not understand what it's like to come home at 9 in the evening." EXTENDING THE FAMILY BUSINESS Mrs. Boyer-Young's daughter, Tiffany Merriman, joined Best Realty four years ago. She had considered becoming a nurse, but settled on real estate after seeing her mother in action, Mrs. Boyer-Young said. Mr. Craig said his children also get to see him and his mother working in real estate. The children help create and distribute real estate signs and flyers and love telling people about their father and "nana" working in real estate, he said. Mr. Shipley said that it took some effort for him to convince his mother to let him work with her. She told him to go to college first, which he did, and then told him to work in the financial services industry. He worked for more than a year at a mortgage originator, and then she recruited him. Mr. Shipley's brother, Travis, is readying to work full time with the company, said Brandi Pearl Thompson, an agent who works closely with the Shipleys, who say they regard her as a member of the family. "It means a lot to me, knowing you have people there who care for you," Ms. Thompson said.
Video Web Link - http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=9542495 Posted: Dec 17, 2008 10:48 PM By Reporter Chris Cannon firstname.lastname@example.org BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - Earlier this year, worries on Wall Street sent the nation's housing market into a tailspin. But now, some of the lowest home loan rates in history could start turning these tough times around. "This is the lowest I've ever seen them," said Dianne Payne of Magna Bank in Brentwood. At the bank, Payne said, "We're making loans. It's business as usual and I hope the consumers understand that." And Payne wants people to know why a dip in mortgage rates is such big news. "We've been in a six-percent market for quite a while, then it kind of dipped to 5.5 percent; 4.5 percent is going to be historical," she said. That rate could be low enough to jump start a sagging housing market. "We've seen a decline and we're on our way up," said Lisa Jackson of Crye-Leike Realtors. She feels with mortgages available at a great interest rate now's the time to get back in the hunt for a home. "Our market is so open right now, it's a buyer's market," she said. "There's so much on the market as far as homes that are available." This mortgage lender doesn't want people to make the mistake of being misinformed about the market. She said misinformation abounds including that "you have to have 20 percent down or you have to be an astronaut to be approved and you don't." And that also applies to people already locked into higher-rate mortgages. "They can have significant savings, $300, $00, $500 a month by refinancing," she said. Everyone hopes this drop in rates starts people talking about buying again. "Getting that conversation going between a husband and wife and saying, maybe we ought to think about buying," Payne said. "That's what we're hoping to see a lot more of in the next few months." Right now, someone with a great credit score could land an interest rate as low as 4.5 percent. But it will vary from mortgage to mortgage.
View The Story @ www.myeyewitnessnews.com Reported by: Lacey Crisp Email: LCrisp@MyEyewitnessNews.com Last Update: 12/13 10:16 pm C0RDOVA, TN - You've heard about the problems in the housing industry. This quarter of a million dollar Cordova home is being foreclosed on. But first time home buyers are finding out they can buy it for a steal. "I just need a good price, like to buy a house. I have a big family so this is the best time to get the best deals," said Abdulwasy Yusuf. Abdulwasy Yusuf is looking to buy his first home. He lives in an apartment with his wife and three daughters. He says he's ready for the American dream. "I'm really excited. I hope I get a good deal, and I hope my family can get in a great place," Yusuf said. Crye Leike General Manager Steve Brown says Yusuf and his family account for most of the foreclosure auction sales. "The first-time buyers are thinking, 'interest rates below 5 percent, best prices in forever, I still have a job. Maybe it's a good time to buy.' It is a good time to buy, it's a great time to buy," Brown said. Brown said investors are buying up about 30 percent of the homes to either rent out, or flip. Brown said you can get a great deal on foreclosed homes, if you do your homework. "Those homes are being sold as is. That means you need to go into it with your eyes wide open. Some have issues. If they termite issues, you've bought those problems," Brown said. You can bring a home inspector into most of the homes on the foreclosure auction. Brown said if you buy one of these homes, you will not owe any back taxes on the property. "There really hasn't been a better time to buy," Brown said. As for Yusuf's family, they've looked at a handful of foreclosure homes in Cordova. "It's in good shape, that's the main thing. You need to change internals," Yusuf said. You need to bring a $5,000 cashier's check if you are planning on bidding on a home at the auction. That money will only be cashed if you buy a home. It will be used as a good faith payment. You should have your financing ready before you go to the auction. Banks do have basement prices on the homes. If the bid isn't high enough, they won't sell. If you are worried about your credit, the Federal Housing Authority can help you with a loan. If your credit is around 620 and you have a job, you would be considered a good applicant for a home loan. The foreclosure auction is Monday, December 15th at the Memphis Marriott Cotillion. Registration starts at 5pm and the auction starts at 6:30pm.
By CHRIS SMITH The Leaf-Chronicle December 14, 2008 Front and center in the Christmas lights display at 1488 Brantley Lane is a Nativity scene, with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the others in a manger surrounded by palm trees. "Jesus is the reason for the season, and everything revolves out from it," said William Peters, city first-place winner in this year's Clarksville Christmas Lighting Contest. Peters, 50, who retired from the Army and now works at Nyrstar zinc plant, has a display that features mock-ups of Clarksville buildings, including the County Courthouse, The Leaf-Chronicle, the L&N Train Station, old City Hall and the Roxy Regional Theatre among others. New to his yard this year is what he calls Santa's Playland ? a merry-go-round, teeter totter and other playground toys, all in twinkling lights. To make room on the north side of his house for the playland, he moved his holographics display to the south side, where it will be more visible to the neighborhood. Peters finances his light display by hiring himself out to a couple of neighbors to handle their yards. His wife doesn't mind all his work on the yard. "She does the inside stuff, and I do the outside," Peters said. County winner R.C. Paslay of 502 Liberty Church Road is the county winner this year. He's been working on his display since mid-October, getting it ready for his annual Thanksgiving night light-up. His display includes a manger scene, Christmas trees and more. New this year is a ski slope in lights, coming down the driveway. Paslay, who retired after 30 years in the Navy then seven with State Industries, said his grandchildren get a kick out of the lights display, and he does as well. "I've enjoyed Christmas ever since I as a kid," he said. The contest About a dozen judges inspected the nominated yards for this year's contest, picking first-, second- and third-place winners for the county and another set of winners for the city, plus subdivision and commercial winners. Cash prizes are $150 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. The contest is sponsored by Crye-Leike Realtors, The Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville Department of Electricity Lightband and the Cumberland Electric Membership Corp. Chris Smith is managing editor for local news and can be reached at 245-0282 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Monday, December 15, 2008 By: Elizabeth Ryan On Sunday, Bill Davenport went where few Chattanoogans have been before ? for a walk inside the Signal Mountain spaceship house. "I've been driving by this place since I was a kid," said Mr. Davenport, 44, a Chattanooga native who now lives in Florida. "I just think this place is awesome." Up for auction for the second time this year, Sunday's open house gave would-be buyers and gawkers alike a chance to survey the flying saucer's unique features, including a curved wet bar, a round master bedroom and custom tiled bathtub. The round concrete home was sold at auction in March for $135,000, but the deal never closed, giving fans like Kim Adams, of Collegedale, another chance to bid on a piece of tangible fantasy. "I'm an avid sci-fi fan, so what's more ultimate than owning a spaceship?" said Ms. Adams, who attends Star Trek conventions and exhibits for fun. She said she missed the first sale and was delighted when she saw the ad for the auction in the newspaper. "I called up my husband (and said), ?Honey, can I buy a spaceship?'" she said. "I have an Enterprise phone just waiting to come in." Built in 1970 ? not long after the first Star Trek series ended ? the suspended saucer has attracted a lot of attention over the years by tourists rubber necking along the hairpin turn on the mountain road. 10-year-old Levi Weaver, who was out with his family for a Sunday drive, was one of those who stopped by. "It looks like you could just get in it, press some buttons and you'd be up in space," he said. According to Terry Posey of Crye-Leike auctions, the builder's intent was to construct a subdivision of spaceship-style circular homes. Because the approximately 1,500-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom model home cost between $150,000 and $175,000 to construct, however, the builder was forced to scrap plans for a bigger project, Mr. Posey said. The current owner purchased the novelty home in November 2007 for $165,000, he said. It may not always have been a money-winner, but its unique charm generated serious interest among potential buyers, Mr. Posey said. Winning bidder James Faris, of Signal Mountain, paid $119,000 for the house, which he plans to rent out to weekend visitors. Owner of Quest Construction, Mr. Faris said he intends to "greenovate" the house by improving the insulation, updating the appliances and repainting with low VOC paint to make it more eco-friendly. He also said he's considering painting the master bedroom to resemble a starry night. "I've seen it for the past 40 some odd years and have always wanted to own it, and so now I do," he said.
December 12, 2008, 2:35 pm Sushil Cheema reports: From the looks of it, E.T. has come back to Earth and set up shop in Signal Mountain, Tenn. At least, that's what one might think upon stumbling across the house designed like a spaceship at 1408 Palisades Road. Star Trek fans?or lovers of quirky architecture?now have a chance to buy the house at auction on Sunday. Known as "The Spaceship House," the building was the creation of Curtis King, who spent $250,000 to have it built for his son in 1973, according to Terry Posey, an auctioneer with Crye-Leike Auction of Cleveland, Tenn., who will be running Sunday's auction. Made of steel and concrete, the structure provides nearly 2,000 square feet of living space, including three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a bar and entertainment area. The rooms are round, just like the house itself, and are situated around a central point. The house includes the original fixtures. A retractable staircase serves as the entrance to the house, but it is broken and remains in the "down" position. The Spaceship House changed hands a few times over the years. The current owner, a local man who once owned a furniture business and who is now a real estate investor, wishes to remain anonymous. He bought the property in the fall of 2007 for $165,000, but has never lived there. "Due to health issues, he's liquidating all his local property and holdings with plans to relocate to Florida," Mr. Posey writes in an email, adding that the owner wants to unload the property as soon as possible. At the auction, there will be no minimum bid for the property and no reserve. "He trusts that the public will give him all that they are willing to give for it," says Tony Young, another Crye-Leike auctioneer. The winning bidder must pay a non-refundable deposit of 20%. Crye-Leike previously auctioned the house in March with a winning bid of $135,000 from an Ohio buyer who put down a 10% non-refundable deposit. That deal fell through. The current auction has already drawn attention. Nearly 300 people came to an open house on Dec. 7, Mr. Young estimates. "We had some folks that expressed a serious interest," he said, adding that some were just stopping by out of curiosity. The auction on Sunday will also include two other properties belonging to the owner of the Spaceship House: A commercial property located in Rossville, Ga., and a mobile home in Dunlap, Tenn.
December 12, 2008 - 9:18 AM Richard Simms The well-known "Space House" on Signal Mountain is up for sale, again. It will be sold at absolute auction Sunday December 14 at 2:00 pm at the house itself (1408 Palisades Road). The unique home that has has been featured in the national media in the past, has changed owners many times over the years. It was most recently sold at auction in March of this year. However Mike Machak, a spokesperson for Crye-Leike Realtors says the apparent buyer defaulted and was never able to take possession... so it is up for auction again. Tony Young, an Auctioneer with the Crye-Leike Auction Team in Cleveland said, "This was probably one of only several hundred auctioned properties we've handled recently where the buyer failed to come up with the cash or financing to complete the purchase. It's an oddity that it didn't sell." The unnamed buyer, who placed the top bid by phone from Ohio, agreed to pay $135,000 for the Space House in March. By defaulting he forfeited a nonrefundable 10% down payment. The next bidder did not meet the minimum bid at the auction. However this time, Machak says there will be no minimum bid. Although the Space House is listed for $184,900, in the upcoming auction it will absolutely go to the highest bidder, no matter what the bid. "This time it will sell with absolutely no minimum and no reserve," said Young. "The owner knows the sale on December 14th at 2:00 pm will be final and it will bring whatever the public is willing to pay." The Crye-leike Auction Team doesn't require verification of funds or a pre-approval letter up front at its auctions. For this Absolute Auction of the Signal Mountain Space House a 20% non-refundable deposit will be required on the day of sale and the balance will be due in 15 days. Auctioneer Young says the current owner wishes to remain unnamed. "He's a local investor who purchased the property in a traditional sale back in the fall of 2007," said Young. "He owns the Space House free and clear and due to health issues he's liquidating all his local property and holdings with plans to relocate to Florida." Built in 1970, the large white saucer shaped structure, built of steel and concrete, is suspended one full story off the ground on six large re-enforced cement pillars. It has nearly 2,000 square feet of living space, three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, kitchen, living room and large open bar/entertainment area. The foundation columns appear like landing gear, concealing the home's utilities high atop a paved parking area underneath. "This unique space ship house has been recognized throughout the United States and featured in many news publications and television programs," said Eric Spencer an Auctioneer with the Crye-Leike Auction Team in Cleveland, Tennessee. "The home has a view of the Tennessee River as well as beautiful views from Signal Mountain, one of the region's more upscale communities." Two additional properties will be sold at auction from the Space House include: 140 Hickory Street, Dunlap, TN 37327 and 815 Chickamauga Avenue, Rossville, GA 30741.
Last updated Thursday, December 11, 2008 3:02 PM CST in Business By Kim Souza THE MORNING NEWS SPRINGDALE -- One in 488 American households were in the midst of foreclosure last month, and another one in 10 were at least 30 days behind on their mortgage, according to a report released Wednesday by Realtytrac. The report indicated 259,085 U.S. properties were in default, up 28 percent from a year ago. But market watchers say the worst may not be over as more and more Americans lose their jobs amid the weakest economy in three decades. "Delinquencies on loans not yet in foreclosure jumped nearly 7 percent in the third quarter, a record high according to the Mortgage Bankers Association," said James Saccacio, CEO of Realtytrac. He said more than half of the homeowners who received loan modifications to reduce monthly payments in the first half of 2008 are already delinquent on their loans again, according to the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision. Saccacio said many of these delinquencies could turn into foreclosures next year. Economists with Wachovia predict foreclosures will not likely top out until 2010, and say recovery in the housing market will be "agonizingly slow." Chief economist John Silvia said housing was the weakest link in their 2009 economic outlook published Wednesday. "We do not expect to see anything approaching strength in the housing market until 2011," Silvia said. The national forecast is bleak for sure and locally the foreclosure numbers look worse. Benton County still ranks No.1 statewide with 476 foreclosures last month, up 185 percent from a year ago. One in 170 households were facing foreclosure last month. Realtytrac reported 190 homes were posted for auction on the court house steps, another 249 were already owned by banks and 37 were at least 60 days past due. Part of the local foreclosure problem relates to investor ownership in properties that were built during the region's market peak -- 2006. One investor group led by Springfield, Mo.-based Greenleaf Companies report nearly 30 foreclosures in one Centerton subdivision, Kensington Hills. The group solicited investors, many who got adjustable rate mortgages and then resold the homes on a contract for deed agreement. Another subdivision, Char Lou Estates, has nearly a dozen homes slated for auction or already taken back by the lender, according to Crye-Leike Realtor Vickie Briolet. Tighter credit requirements and deteriorating wealth from stock market losses have prompted some investors to walk away, one investor recently told The Morning News. Washington County did not fare much better, ranking second statewide. The county reported 224 foreclosures in November, up 149 percent from a year ago. One in every 357 households were in the midst of foreclosure, 156 homes posted for sale and 68 already surrendered to banks. Other counties in the region report healthier numbers. Madison and Carroll counties had just two foreclosures each last month, while McDonald County Mo. reported none.
"Internet Open House" from the Jackson, MS Clarion Ledger - clarionledger.com Mississippi's #1 website
By Reporter - Jeff Ayres firstname.lastname@example.org December 11, 2008 To comment on this story, call Jeff Ayres at (601) 961-7050 People shopping for homes can get a closer look at their potential purchase in minutes with a click of a mouse. Real estate firms have taken advantage of technology allowing buyers to take virtual tours of some homes. "We have a lot of clients who move from out of town and say, 'I've got two or three days to look,' " said Sheri Bryan, managing broker at Crye-Leike Realty in Ridgeland. "If you don't have pictures or a virtual (listing) of a home, they won't buy a home." Some virtual tours provide images that allow potential buyers to zoom in and out providing a greater sense of a room's dimensions. More sophisticated programs allow viewers to seamlessly walk through the home from a computer. Chris and Michelle Stratton used virtual tours when moving to the area from Tulsa, Okla. "It gave us the (advantage) of being inside the home" without doing an actual walk-through, Chris Stratton said. The couple used the feature to limit their search, visited a few homes before settling on a four-bedroom home in Madison. With the online world used for everything from paying bills to ordering pizza and movie tickets, it makes sense homebuying should become an increasingly digital affair, said Doug Maselle, president of Century 21 Maselle & Associates. "With the click of a mouse, you can locate (any house) you want. I can't imagine not having it," he said. He said the firm has sold a number of homes strictly through online tours, to out-of-towners and locals alike. But he strongly encourages people to do a physical walk-through to become intimately familiar with a house and any potential problems. "You cannot see the flaws, all the little details (without a walk-through)," he said. Madison resident Betty Looney said a physical tour of a home she and her husband viewed caused the couple to continue their search. "If you can see a floorplan, tile and that kind of stuff can be replaced, but you can't go and change what the inside of the house is like," Looney said. Nonetheless, she says virtual tours are incredibly helpful in allowing people to get a sense of how compatible a house is for their needs and belongings. Tours often feature pictures taken from multiple angles, so customers can get a better sense of the room and what might be able to fit in it. The service allows agents to familiarize themselves with a home before taking clients on a tour. The tours also can help streamline the buying process for real estate firms. Maselle said customers research properties on their own, when before people would want to search the listing service on an agent's computer. Crye-Leike uses a virtual tour for all its listings. The company partners with an online company for the virtual tours. The real estate agency pays the online firm, which specializes in real estate tours, about $100 a year for the service. Real estate professionals are finding other tech-savvy ways of providing information to potential buyers. Crye-Leike includes phone numbers on its for sale signs that provide detailed information on a property. Agents are paged and e-mailed about all calls to that number. Bryan says she's sold two homes in the last six months through this method. Maselle sees no reason why virtual tours and other online features designed to make homebuying easier won't gain even more of a foothold in the future.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008 Benton Courier Saline County, Arkansas A local real estate agent wants homeowners to know there is help available if foreclosure is looming. Crye-Leike Realtors is taking a different approach to the housing market downturn. The company has launched a grassroots effort to help families facing foreclosure. "We want homeowners in a situation where they are behind on payments or can't make payments to give us a call," Karen Crowson, with the Benton branch said. "We don't want to necessarily sell their home, but we can intervene and take a different approach." She added, "We're normally out there trying to get business, but now we're taking a step back and just trying to look at it as community involvement." Even if Crye-Leike didn't help homeowners get into their homes, Crowson and other agents can help, she said. "This is for anybody. We are using our knowledge of the market and we can talk to their lender about the realistic value of the property and then the lender can work with the buyer to work something out." When people face financial difficulty, Crowson said, sometimes "there is a tendency to keep it inside, but we want them to know we can help and get them credit counseling and other services." Crowson, who's been in this market for 22 years, said about five or six homes in Saline County are facing foreclosure each week. "We're fortunate to not have more, but we certainly want to help those we can." Nationwide there are hundreds of thousands of families facing foreclosure because they can't afford their mortgage payments or they owe far more than their house is worth, according to industry officials. The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that about 50 percent of homeowners who do lose their homes to foreclosure have never once contacted their lender.
Find the Chattanooga Times Free Press online at www.timesfreepress.com Reported by: Jason Reynolds Saturday, December 6, 2008 Although the government has imposed a moratorium on some foreclosures for the next month, more could be done to save people's homes if lenders and real estate agents worked together, some industry experts say. "Why isn't every lender ... utilizing Realtors to assist in foreclosure prevention?" Cindy Walker, director of Crye-Leike Realtors' foreclosure division, said. "These are the people that already know the market." Real estate agents are a logical choice to check on homeowners' financial status, in some instances, said Keith Sanford, executive vice president of First Tennessee Bank in Chattanooga. Realtors have the ability to check on their previous clients, he said, and would know if those clients' finances were tight at the time of closing. However, Mr. Sanford said the bank could not simply provide client information to Realtors because of privacy concerns. Lenders and Realtors have an opportunity to help people stay in their homes with the recent announcement by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that foreclosures on government-backed loans will be halted until Jan. 9 so loan handlers can try to modify bad mortgages, Ms. Walker said. The moratorium affects owner-occupied properties, not abandoned houses or homes that have been rented. Several agents and other industry experts talked over foreclosures and other real estate issues during a recent roundtable discussion at the Times Free Press. Last month, Crye-Leike President Harold Crye began pushing the concept of encouraging Realtors to help homeowners, Ms. Walker said. Mr. Crye wrote a letter to all Crye-Leike agents asking them to find homeowners in financial trouble and help them talk to their lenders or a housing counseling service. The initiative is one way for Realtors to give back to the community, she said. Nancy Clairmont-Johnson, a Crye-Leike agent, has been trying to prevent one house from being foreclosed on for more than three months. Her client's home in Windstone is listed at $485,000. Mrs. Clairmont-Johnson said she persuaded the lender to hold off recently on foreclosure to let her try to conduct a short sale. She also said that her company's foreclosure prevention initiative is a way to help the community instead of having people being forced from their homes. "I think it was an effort not to help us sell property, but to help people stay in their homes," she said. "It's not normally what Realtors would be doing, but it's a personal effort on our part to help people." The federal government's moratorium is a good beginning to solve the foreclosure crisis, said Aaron Shipley, co-owner of ReMax Properties North. It could give homeowners time to conduct short sales, he said. A short sale is when a house that's facing foreclosure is quickly sold, often for less money than is owed on the mortgage. Mr. Shipley also agreed that agents should help people avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. One stumbling block, however, is that lenders have to approve such a sale, and it's taking weeks and even months for some sellers to hear back from lenders, Ms. Walker said. Brandi Pearl Thompson, Mr. Shipley's co-worker at ReMax, said she agreed. She has been working with a client for five months to buy a Signal Mountain house on a short sale, but the lender is holding up the sale, she said. "This buyer wants this house," Ms. Thompson said. "The seller wants to sell but the lender will not help us to get this facilitated. And we could close in a week." Mr. Shipley attributes such problems to lenders and servicers being overwhelmed with work. That makes the idea of Realtors helping lenders connect with homeowners all the more logical, Ms. Walker said. First Tennessee sold its mortgage servicing business, but still makes loans, Mr. Sanford said. Sometimes a servicer will get backlogged, but will try to contact a borrower who is behind in his payments. In the last few years, too many buyers were allowed to take on too much debt, buying more house than they could afford, Mr. Shipley said. Now, lenders are tightening credit restrictions for loans. Some homeowners are facing foreclosure, however, because lenders are tightening credit requirements on people who already have loans, said Jay Mace, a senior loss mitigation counselor at Save America Homes in Ringgold. Until recently, a monthly mortgage payment could account for 50 percent or more of a person's overall debt, he said, but the threshold is being lowered to between 28 percent to 36 percent, and some lenders are requiring more money from homeowners. "It makes a person a long-term renter," Mr. Mace said. "People aren't being grandfathered in under the new rules."
Friday, December 5, 2008 Nashville Business Journal - by Jenny Burns Staff Writer One of Greater Nashville's largest residential real estate firms ? ERA Pacesetter Partners ? is closing up shop. It's only the latest casualty of tough economic times. About 100 residential real estate offices have closed, merged, changed names or canceled their listing subscription between January and November, according to the Multiple Listing Service. "We just couldn't continue month after month to keep seeing losses. It's going to be another tough year" unless the government offers some kind of tax advantages to buy houses, says Tony Carletello, owner of the Brentwood-based ERA Pacesetter Partners. "It was hard to shut it down. I'm proud of our agents and our managers." The 25-year-old ERA ranked as the 10th largest firm in Music City last year based on company sides, the agency's portion of a transaction. It had $246 million in gross sales in 2007, with an average home price of $190,034, according to Business Journal research. Carletello bought the firm in 2003 and expanded to 250 agents and seven offices by 2006. It then started consolidating offices at the recommendation of Richard Smith, CEO of Parsippany, N.J.-based Realogy Corp., which owns ERA and three other real estate brands. "He saw this coming," says Carletello, who was named top selling agent in Nashville in 2001. The consolidation cut the firm to about 100 agents and three offices this year, but it still couldn't survive a 28 percent drop in home sales. Carletello recommended the ERA agents join Coldwell Banker Barnes, which is also owned by Realogy, says David Barnes, owner of Coldwell Banker Barnes. The firm has taken on about 50 of ERA's agents, including Carletello. Barnes says all real estate companies are finding ways to operate as smart and frugally as possible, without hurting sales. "We are making the decision that nothing really is going to change for 12 months," Barnes says. Coldwell Banker Barnes closed its Harding Place office because of slow sales in that area. Its other eight offices are staying intact. Most new agents from ERA Pacesetter will go to Barnes' Brentwood and Cool Springs offices, he says. The total number of offices that have closed this year isn't clear, but the MLS reports about 100 firms that are no longer active in the system as of Nov. 3 for various reasons. "Quite a few small offices have closed," says Robb Campbell, owner of Re/Max Elite. There are "lots of closings, consolidations and mergers going on right now." Crye-Leike closed four real estate offices earlier this year. CEO Harold Crye says he expects more consolidations in the larger firms. While sales are down about 25 percent from last year, Crye says October and November of 2007 saw similar declines. "You can't pay your bills when your volumes are down 50 percent," he says. The real estate industry had geared up for a high volume of sales during the boom years, so an exodus of agents and offices may be necessary, Crye says. Re/Max Colonial Realty closed in Clarksville as well as Re/Max Real Estate Partners in Chapel Hill, Campbell says. Other offices have seen mergers and name changes. Re/Max Elite Pleasant View moved to Clarksville, and the company's two Kennar Avenue offices consolidated into the Brentwood office, Campbell said. Re/Max Professionals in Columbia changed its name to Re/Max Elite because it was acquired. Three EXIT Realty offices were on the inactive list. Two changed names with new owners, and one went out of business. EXIT Realty at Pirates Cove closed when its Alabama owner, which had two offices there, decided to focus on his home state, says Jean Marie Grumbles, owner of EXIT MidSouth. And more consolidations are coming. Zeitlin & Co. will combine its Brentwood and Franklin offices into a central office at the Meridian Cool Springs. Prudential Woodmont Realty is closing its Nashville, Hermitage and Hendersonville offices and merging them with its Brentwood office. General Manager Marilyn Manka says technology has changed the real estate industry to make it more cost effective for agents to work from home or a central office. email@example.com | 615-846-4276
Miracle on 34th Street: Crye-Leike fundraiser and classic movie screening. All ticket sale proceeds and donations will go to benefit Vanderbilt's Camp Hope for kids who have been injured by burns. For more information, call 615-373-3513. 12:30 p.m. Belcourt Theatre, 2102 Belcourt Ave.; $8.50 ages 12+, $6.50 ages 11-under. Tickets: www.belcourt.org or at the theater box office.