So  much information was jam-packed into last week’s National Association of Real Estate Editor’s Spring Conference. Bethany, Jon and I were all in attendance and working to bring you what we learned. Throughout this week, I’ll post what I thought were some of the most significant graphs. The biggest take-aways: disruption, i-buyers, availability, affordability, technology, and experience in home selling and buying. Change is happening, and it is happening in media as well as real estate. For the first time, consumer journalists are paying attention to the way the BUSINESS of real estate is changing: that’s no longer a B to B story. The consumer wants and deserves a better real estate experience. (more…)

reputation managementImagine yourself in this situation: You’re a Realtor with many years of experience, even more satisfied clients, and by and large, a happy career. Upon the urging of your brokerage, you’ve established a Google Business page, and encouraged people to leave reviews about their experiences with you on Yelp.

Then one afternoon, you see a new review on your Google Business page that leaves you confused, angry, and a little nauseous.

buzz0976: This woman is a con artist! She’s the worse realter Ive ever met and made me loose a bunch of money on ahouse in Dallas. terrible service!!! Liar!!!!!!

Who is buzz0976? What on earth is he or she talking about? And why is this online?

Maybe the situation stops there, and that negative comment gets buried over time. But maybe it does not stop. Some Realtors have been the target of personal attacks on social media and other sites, like RipoffReport.com, where anonymous posters have fabricated all manner of stories designed to destroy their reputation.

It happened to Ebby Halliday Realtor RoseMarie LaCoursiere, who recently endured months of online harassment by an anonymous poster whose intent was clearly character assassination. LaCoursiere says this person wrote dozens of negative reviews under different names across the Internet, from her Google Business page to RipoffReport.com.

“It’s very serious when you look at how the Internet, misused with intention, can destroy a person’s reputation” LaCoursiere said. “In essence, I really have no recourse or effective way to defend my good name if I turn a blind eye and keep silent, which is what is expected of me by my online attacker. That’s what a bully expects.”

The crux of all this is online reputation management. As carefully as you may craft your online brand, by-and-large, you lack control over what other people say about you online in social media and other websites.

Most situations are nowhere near as serious as LaCoursiere’s. But what can you do about personal attacks in social media, no matter the scope? How can you defend your good name?

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employment growth

In Texas, it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

A new report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University says that the Texas economy gained 276,400 nonagricultural jobs from June 2014 to June 2015, an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent, compared with 2.1 percent for the United States. Many of the major metropolitan areas saw much bigger gains, like Midland-Odessa.

Midland ranked first in job creation, followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Odessa, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Austin-Round Rock, and San Antonio-New Braunfels. Fort Worth-Arlington ranked No. 7 with 2.7 percent job growth.

In fact, every single Texas metro areas except Wichita Falls had more jobs in June 2015 than one year prior.

Big sectors for job growth were:

  1. Leisure and Hospitality: 5.05 percent growth
  2. Education and health services: 3.87 percent growth
  3. Professional and business services: 3.54 percent growth
  4. Transportation, warehousing and utilities: 3.52 percent growth
  5. Construction: 3.34 percent growth

All these new jobs in the Texas economy were created despite lower oil prices. Real Estate Center research economist Ali Anari says there hasn’t been much impact from dropping oil prices yet. But that could change.

“The oil companies hedged into the future and they have oil contracts, many of them extending to the end of this year,” Anari said. “If there is a downtown, it would not be apparent until next year.”

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Two new reports paint a bright picture of the housing market in Midland and Odessa now and for the next three years.

The Local Monitor Reports, released today, cite a 7 percent increase in Midland home prices over the last 12 months, which puts the average home price at $183,463. In Odessa, prices have gone up 5 percent over the last year and the current average home price is $210,980. In the last three years, home prices were up 10 percent in both markets.

The good news doesn’t stop there. Both markets are scored significantly into the “low risk investment” category. The reports predict an 8 percent increase in home values over the next 12 months in Midland—compare that a national average of 4.6 percent. In the second and third years, prices are forecast to increase 9 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

In Odessa, they predict a 7 percent increase in home values over the next 12 months, and 9 percent in both the second the third years.

Why this rosy glow around the Midland-Odessa housing market? One word: Jobs.

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Midland home prices

Photo: Dan Moyle

Two new reports from Local Monitor Report are projecting big increases in home values in Midland and Odessa over the next three years, almost double the national average. Prices are predicted to rise even more.

Home values for Midland are forecast to increase by 8 percent over the next 12 months—compare that to national forecast of 4.6 percent. In the second and third years, values are forecast to increase 9 percent each year, a 26 percent increase in three years.

Midland home prices are projected to increase even more, at 30 percent over the next three years. In the last 12 months, prices have gone up by 7 percent, bringing the average home price in Midland to $183,463.

In Odessa, the report is predicting a 7 percent increase in home values over the next 12 months, and 9 percent in each of the next two years. That’s a total projected increase of at least 25 percent.

Odessa home prices are forecast to increase more, at 29 percent over the next three years. Odessa home prices have increased by 5 percent in the last 12 months, and the average home price is now $210,980.

All this adds up to a “low risk” categorization by Local Monitor Report for real estate investments in both Midland and Odessa, good news for homeowners and investors, alike.

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U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway wants to repeal the 40-year ban on American oil exports.

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway wants to repeal the 40-year ban on American oil exports. (Photo: Texas Tribune)

Representatives in both the Texas house and in Washington want to end the 40-year ban on U.S. oil exports, a policy developed in the 70s in response to the wildly fluctuating energy market. However, some elected officials feel that policy is outdated and is slowing America’s economic growth. Considering low oil prices and the price per gallon of gasoline just now reaching more that $2.50 since its precipitous decline last fall, Midland and Odessa could certainly benefit from an expanded oil and gas market.

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) with U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) have filed HR 2369, the Energy Supply and Distribution Act, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. It’s a bill that would do away with the ban on oil and gas exports. An Alaskan Senator has filed a companion bill that will do the same.

Oil and gas firms pretty much unanimously support the legislation, and a Texas Senate resolution gives a resounding “amen” to the proposed repeal, too.

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Photo courtesy Charleston's TheDigitel via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy Charleston’s TheDigitel via Creative Commons

DFW rents were 6.2 higher last year, averaging $919 per month, but demand still soared, with North Texas leading the nation in apartment rentals, and vacancies at a 13-year low, according to new real estate research from Zillow and MPF Research.

The increased rent translated to an extra $600 million paid to landlords last year, Zillow reported. For North Texans, that meant a median increase of $35 a month, higher than the nationwide rate of $26.

Rising rents are nothing new, said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

“Over the past 14 years, rents have grown at twice the pace of income due to weak income growth, burgeoning rental demand, and insufficient growth in the supply of rental housing,” he said. “This has created real opportunities for rental housing owners and investors, but has also been a bitter pill to swallow for tenants, particularly those on an entry-level salary and those would-be buyers struggling to save for a down payment on a home of their own.”

For 2015, expect more of the same.

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Kathryn Roan's post busting the Top 10 Realtor Myths was the most-read article on CandysDirt.com. True or False: All Realtors post in bikinis for their billboard ads?

Kathryn Roan’s post busting the Top 10 Realtor Myths was the most-read article on CandysDirt.com. True or False: All Realtors post in bikinis for their billboard ads?

… and had everything to do with busting the myths surrounding Realtors.

It was Kathryn Donovan Roan’s post on the top 10 Realtor myths that was commented on and shared the most, generating 51,267 pageviews. In the post, Roan de-bunked some of the more insidious and commonplace assumptions about Realtors, including how they make commission, how they are licensed, and much more.

“I am amazed how many times ‘Top 10 Myths’ was shared, even on other blogs and Facebook groups,” Roan said. “It just goes to show you how prevalent these misconceptions are, no matter the market. I hope, also, that it helps people understand how hard the business really is – how risky, and with no guarantees.”

It’s true! Even with how much home prices are on the rise and how high demand is in Dallas and beyond, nothing is ever certain in real estate. It takes someone who is methodical, consistent, and very savvy to make real money in this industry.

Our other hot posts for 2014 were:

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