Homeward Blog

Customer story: How Austin and Lewis used Homeward to skip the stress in Denver

The Homeward Team
June 8, 2022
7
 min read
“I’d never lived anywhere else, so the thought of leaving my family in Minneapolis felt like a pretty huge move.”

For Austin, moving away from the only place she’d ever called home felt like a turning point. 

It was early 2016, and she’d decided to move to Denver with her boyfriend, Lewis. Despite her nervousness, they found a place to rent and both quickly found new jobs. Lewis—a trained chef—found plenty of work in the booming Denver food scene, while Austin landed a gig working as a childcare specialist for the State of Colorado. 

After getting married in June 2017, they made the big decision to purchase their first home later that year. It was small—just 600 square feet—but they were frequent travelers and it was the perfect home base between big trips. By renting out their new home during trips, their house also doubled as an income source to support their adventuring lifestyle.

The pandemic hits

But like so much else in the world, everything changed when the COVID-19 pandemic began. In mere weeks, travel became an impossibility. Austin found herself working from home. On top of that, with COVID restrictions constantly changing, Lewis’ employment as a chef often was up in the air. 

While their cozy home had worked great for their pre-COVID lives, Austin and Lewis quickly realized that it was simply too small for their new reality. Between them and their two dogs—Shandy and Daphne—their space felt cramped and confining. 

But with the Denver real estate market being incredibly hot and financial uncertainty around Lewis’ employment, could they afford to make a move to something bigger? 

Shandy and Daphne, Austin and Lewis' dogs.

Should we do this?

Despite the unknowns, Austin reached out to the person who’d helped them purchase their first home. Annie Collins, a realtor at Ford & Associates, was an old friend and had been a huge help during their first homebuying experience. “We thought the market was crazy then,” remembers Lewis. “Today’s market makes 2017 seem tame.”  Annie agrees: “Today, if you’re not putting in an offer that’s $100k over the asking price, you basically don’t have a shot.”

As they started exploring the possibility of upsizing with Annie, they were forced to come to terms with the challenges they’d face. “We didn’t want to sell our current home first and be homeless or need to rent,” says Austin. “We had plenty of equity in our home and figured it would sell fast, but selling before buying felt risky.”

“The market here’s just so competitive. You have to bring cash to the table or you can’t even play the game. And for people in our age range, you normally don’t have much cash to bring to the table. How are you supposed to compete?”

For Lewis, the Denver housing market felt intimidating: “The market here’s just so competitive. You have to bring cash to the table or you can’t even play the game. And for people in our age range, you normally don’t have much cash to bring to the table. How are you supposed to compete?” Austin summed it up: “The Denver housing market is like Black Friday, every day.” 

Starting the search

Despite all of the challenges, Austin and Lewis knew they couldn’t thrive long-term in their existing home. With Annie’s encouragement that it would be tough, but not impossible, they decided to move forward and start checking out houses in November 2020. Unsurprisingly, their experience was exactly what they’d expected.

“We probably saw twenty or thirty houses over a few months,” says Austin. “I think we put in nine offers, and we actually had a few accepted. The problem was that the market was moving so quickly, you felt like you had to put an offer in just to give yourself time to think about whether it was actually a house you wanted.”

Although they had a few offers accepted, they backed out after reviewing the results of the home inspections. “Each one had major problems that would have cost a lot of money to fix,” says Lewis. “With all the info, none of them felt like a wise decision.”

As they reviewed everything they’d experienced, they realized that their home sale contingency was holding them back. “The home sale contingency really hobbled us,” remembers Lewis. “We’d put together a good offer, but when the seller saw the contingency, our offer would go to the bottom of the stack. In a hot market like Denver, that just doesn’t fly.” 

“The home sale contingency really hobbled us… when the seller saw the contingency, our offer would go to the bottom of the stack.”

It was at this point that Annie suggested they try using Homeward’s Buy before you sell solution. 

“We were trying so hard, and I could tell Annie was also feeling frustrated that we just couldn’t get in the door,” says Austin. “She brought up Homeward as a last-ditch effort of sorts. She’d never worked with Homeward before, so we were a test subject, and it ended up being a perfect fit.”

Annie acknowledges that they were all skeptical at first. “We had a lot of questions and there was a ton of back-and-forth. We were all asking the same question: ‘What’s the catch here?’ But the Homeward team were really supportive, and once we understood the program they enabled us to move really quickly.”

The Homeward experience

Austin and Lewis were near their breaking point. “I remember saying that we would try putting in one more offer,” says Austin. “If it didn’t work out, we were going to take a break. The experience was just too stressful.” 

After working with Annie and Homeward to get preapproved for the Homeward Cash Offer, they started looking at homes again. They found one they absolutely loved in late March. “It had more space, a guest room, a big yard for the dogs and a garden…it was perfect,” says Austin. “We decided to give it a go using the Homeward Cash Offer.”

They later learned that they were one of twenty-four offers on this particular home. To their shock, their offer was accepted! 

It was all smiles once their cash offer was accepted.

“We think that Homeward’s Buy before your sell program was the key,” says Austin. “Homeward allowed us to bring a cash offer to the table, but the other important piece was that it enabled us to sell our home after buying. That meant we were able to give the sellers sixty days to move out at no additional cost. Since the family that owned the home had a young daughter, they were really attracted to that.” 

“Homeward allowed us to bring a cash offer to the table, but the other important piece was that it enabled us to sell our home after buying.”

“It’s really hard to buy and sell in this market,” says Annie. “Cash really is king, because sellers see it as easy. Having options like [The Homeward Cash Offer] works like a charm in the right situations.”

The deal was finalized in mid-April and they moved into their new home in mid-May. They quickly listed their old home for sale and accepted an offer two days later, neatly wrapping up the whole process. 

Putting down roots (literally)

“We love our new house. I think we say it at least once a week,” says Austin. “We now have an office, a huge yard for the dogs, a guest bedroom, and a garage. It’s changed our lives, really. We’re so thankful for Annie and for Homeward for making this possible.”

Lewis agrees. “I honestly don’t know if we could have stayed in Denver if we didn’t get this house. We love it here, but it’s so hard with the housing market the way it is.”

Austin and Lewis shared their story with the Homeward team from their car. Why? They were in the parking lot at their local Lowe’s home improvement store. “We’re so excited to be in our new home. We’re planting our first garden!” Austin shared. “Since Lewis is a chef, he’s always wanted to be able to grow his own vegetables. We can finally make that dream a reality.”

Lewis is ready to get his hands dirty and start growing fresh lettuce for salads and sides. As for Austin? She just wants to plant as many sunflowers as possible. 

Who can argue with that?

Customer story: How the Homeward Cash Offer leveled the playing field for these first-time homebuyers

The Homeward Team
June 8, 2022
6
 min read

Choosing to start a family is both exciting and terrifying. 

Even the bravest among us feel nervous at the thought of shouldering responsibility for a little baby. When you add fertility challenges into the equation, each step in the journey to parenthood is fraught with even more emotion and anxiety. For Angie and Ty Garrison, this emotional roller coaster also coincided with each of them landing new teaching jobs on the other side of Houston in the summer of 2021.

“We had moved once every year for the last four years. We knew we didn’t want an hour-long commute each way, but we also didn’t want to move again unless it was permanent.” - Angie, first-time homebuyer

Finding a place to rent near their new school districts was an option, but not an appealing one. “It made us feel anxious knowing we would have to put our things in storage yet again,” says Angie. “We had moved once every year for the last four years. We knew we didn’t want an hour-long commute each way, but we also didn’t want to move again unless it was permanent. On top of that, rising rent prices had us worried that things would get costly.”

A safe space to call home

Finding a home to call their own was about more than just a shorter commute. They were ready to put down roots. Yes, finding a place near their new jobs would put them closer to family and work, but it would also give them a safe and private place to navigate the road to parenthood. “It’s a very personal experience,” says Angie. “You want to have your privacy. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, if we don’t have a house or even a place to stay…’”

As first-time homebuyers, Angie and Ty knew nothing about the homebuying process. When a relative recommended they reach out to Grant Rothberg, owner of Rothberg Realty Group, they happily did so. Grant is a combat veteran and a respected realtor in the Greater Houston Area, and after a few conversations with him, they both knew they’d found the perfect partner for their homebuying journey. “With every step of the process, Grant explained it to us in layman’s terms. He never made us feel silly or dumb for not knowing something. His approach was really consistent and transparent, and he made us feel really comfortable throughout the whole process.”

The countdown begins

Angie and Ty’s homebuying journey started the moment their summer vacation began. Because they were both teachers, they knew summer break would be a perfect opportunity to focus on finding a great home before the new school year (and new jobs) started up in August. But the Houston housing market was hot, and they were worried about being able to find something before the new school year began. As they assessed options with Grant, he recommended Homeward as a tool that could help them quickly purchase the house they wanted. 

“My clients trust me to help them accomplish their goal of finding a home, and I don’t know of any tool better equipped for that than a cash offer. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I knew there was a tool like Homeward and I didn’t advise every client to use it.” - Grant Rothberg, Rothberg Realty Group

“I recommend Homeward whenever possible because I know it gives my clients the very best chance to land the house they want the first time,” says Grant. “My clients trust me to help them accomplish their goal of finding a home, and I don’t know of any tool better equipped for that than a cash offer. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I knew there was a tool like Homeward and I didn’t advise every client to use it.”

Was it too good to be true?

Angie and Ty were skeptical at first. “Grant explained the benefits of Homeward to us as soon as we began our search. We had both heard about the rise in buyers preferring cash offers because of how competitive the market was, but we thought it was too good to be true.

They knew they should give it their due diligence, so they had several calls with their Homeward Customer Experience Manager. “She was super patient with us as we went through all the documents,” Angie shared. “Just like Grant, she never made us feel dumb for not knowing things. Homeward was really on top of it and communicative.”

After seeing a number of houses and losing out on one they liked, Angie and Ty found a home they loved in early July 2021. The house had only been on the market for a day, but they moved quickly. With Grant’s help, they put in a Homeward Cash Offer the very next day. “We knew this was a home we wanted to put our best offer forward on,” says Ty.

Dreams become reality

Although it was everything they’d been dreaming of, they were still shocked when their offer was accepted. “There were multiple offers, and we weren’t the highest offer,” reflects Grant. “It was a combination of the certainty of a cash offer and the speed that made Angie and Ty’s offer really attractive.” Speed was certainly a big factor for everyone, because just three weeks later Angie and Ty moved into their new home. 

“I was so impressed with how quickly things went,” says Angie. “The family we bought the house from were also moving, and the lady mentioned how the shorter closing period with Homeward was really significant to them. It really stood out to her.” 

“The family we bought the house from were also moving, and the lady mentioned how the shorter closing period with Homeward was really significant to them. It really stood out to her.” 

Home at last

Angie and Ty were overjoyed to finally move everything out of storage. They moved into their new home on July 23. Two short weeks later, Angie began IVF treatment and they both started their new jobs. “It was just a huge weight off my shoulders,” says Angie. “I just kept thinking, ‘I’m so glad we have a home.’ I can’t imagine having to go through all that while trying to find an apartment and move.” 

That gratitude is still on their minds months later: “We wake up every day feeling so incredibly grateful for our home, the people who helped us get here, and all the events that aligned in our life to get us to this place. As teachers with a tight budget, we were aware we needed something to help us stand out. Homeward’s cash offer and short closing time sold us and helped us get here. It’s truly amazing to be able to say we own this home.”

How PropTech tools can help agents build better businesses

The Homeward Team
June 1, 2022
8
 min read

Be kind and rewind to 1994. Fewer than 3,000 websites are in existence. Companies don’t yet rely on the internet for the bulk of their marketing. Local businesses thrive on word of mouth, some flyers, and a sizable ad in the Yellow Pages. Almost zero of the people you do business with have a website, and almost all your purchases are local.

Fast forward to now. Any company that experienced success in 1994 but didn’t adopt a website within the last three decades would assuredly not be successful now. Customer expectations changed as the world did, and a well-designed and functional website is a badge of trust that would-be consumers seek out.

Real estate agents who resist the PropTech phenomenon may find themselves in the same predicament in the not-so-distant future. Some wariness about certain tech trends is warranted, as the PropTech sphere certainly contains its fair share of tech companies bent on disruption. However, no tool can replace the responsiveness, trust, and expertise of a good agent — a fact that both customers and PropTech companies understand.

This doesn’t mean customers will flock to real estate agents who refuse to use every means available to close deals. Upwards of 3 million licensed real estate agents operate in the United States, and more than a few of them are already using PropTech to get their clients results. You shouldn’t wait 30 years to build your website, and you shouldn’t wait until it’s too late to take full advantage of the benefits PropTech tools have to offer.

What Is PropTech?

The term PropTech encompasses every digital tool that addresses any part of the real estate market. It’s been used to describe topics as varied as:

  • Commercial property sales
  • Residential property sales
  • Rental property payment apps
  • Property databases
  • Smart home devices
  • Virtual tour and live stream apps
  • Real estate–specific customer relationship management (CRM) platforms

When agents express apprehension toward PropTech, they usually mean a handful of specific companies that position themselves as competitors. However, blanket disapproval of PropTech is like a vegetarian declaring they don’t like food in general because they don’t eat meat. Tools that fall under the “PropTech” umbrella often deal with transactions outside of a residential real estate agent’s purview. Almost 50% of PropTech companies operate in the commercial property market, and nearly 70% of companies retain a B2B focus. Many PropTech companies that do operate in the residential space are built to make agents’ lives easier, not more stressful.

The term “PropTech” covers many bases and overlaps other tech industries. (Source)

The slow adoption of digital real estate tools amongst agents can be attributed to PropTech’s slow rollout. The world started going digital during the ‘90s internet boom, and sectors like finance and retail used tech advances to revolutionize their industries. While FinTech, RetailTech, and the like took off, PropTech took longer to gain traction, despite the attractive value of American real estate.

But the slow start is over. The revenue of publicly traded PropTech companies hit $13.5 billion in a single quarter in 2021. Deals concerning PropTech tools were valued at $7.3 billion just in 2020. Agents don’t need to familiarize themselves with PropTech because it’s the next big thing. It’s the current big thing, and it’s only getting bigger.

Why agents should use PropTech

Agents may be hesitant to use digital tools, but customers are not. A reported 70% of home buyers express comfort in doing business over their computer — a number which stands to increase as younger generations enter the real estate market in droves. Any agent that wants to appeal to an increasingly tech-friendly customer base has to come to terms with the changing demographics and preferences of modern home buyers, many of whom:

  • Are remote workers with flexible or changing schedules
  • Are millennials who prefer to engage in digital spaces
  • Are looking to close quickly in a competitive housing market
  • Want their real estate agents to create a more efficient ecosystem for communication and support

Real estate professionals who worry that PropTech will cut agents out of the transaction miss the point. Customers can already put their houses up for sale without an agent, but only 7% of homeowners choose to do so. They trust agents to negotiate the best deal and to use their expertise and experience to provide smooth sailing during an often-bumpy experience. Even big-name PropTech companies who have tried to cut real estate professionals out of the equation have resorted to hiring licensed agents to steer their deals.

The best PropTech tools simply enable real estate agents to become more efficient and available resources to their customers. They also allow agents to automate administrative processes and focus on tasks that require human interaction. Imagine this scenario:

A chatbot greets a prospect as they browse your website. After asking the chatbot a few questions, the customer submits their contact information. That night, a house goes up for sale in the neighborhood they want to move into. Your real estate CRM pulls the listing from the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and sends out listing alerts to your lead list. Suddenly, you’re on the phone with your new lead to set up a showing for a home that’s only been listed for a few hours.

3 helpful PropTech tools for real estate agents

PropTech companies have made tools to address just about any real estate-related challenge that faces agents. Real estate professionals can increase their value to customers and streamline their businesses with help from PropTech tools like:

Homeward

Homeward is a PropTech tool founded and largely staffed by real estate agents. Our product provides agents with two incredible opportunities to present to their clients: to buy before they sell or to make a cash offer on a home.

Imagine your customer has found their dream home, but they need the money from the sale of their current house to afford it. However, you know that this property will get snapped up in a heartbeat. You can use the Buy before you sell service to get Homeward to buy the new house for your clients, which lets them move in once the sale is final. When their former home sells and their mortgage is finalized, your clients will buy the new house back from us.

Our Agent Dashboard helps you oversee the entire transaction.

Our Buy with cash service keys in on a particular real estate fact: cash offers are four times more likely to beat competing offers that don’t use cash. The service functions much the same as Buy before you sell. We provide the cash and buys the house, and the new homeowner repays the company once their mortgage is finalized.

These two simple selling points make Homeward an invaluable tool in any real estate agent’s toolbox. The best part: agents get to keep their full commission while staying at the center of the transaction.

Help your customers close with help from Homeward.

Ylopo

Ylopo attempts to bring real estate marketing into the 21st century with its slew of comprehensive digital marketing solutions. The PropTech platform enables agents to build an aesthetically pleasing custom website with features specifically designed to entice and engage high-quality leads. It’s also a Facebook ad-generating powerhouse that connects to the MLS to produce targeted ads for specific user segments.

With Ylopo, you can also:

Ylopo’s beautiful IDX home search feature can be built directly into your website. (Source)

Structurely

Website chatbots have been around for decades, but Structurely’s spin on the service is custom-tailored for those in property industries. The chatbot’s name is Aisa Holmes (a play on “AI Inside Sales Assistant), and your leads may never know she’s not a flesh-and-blood employee. Aisa fields queries from your website with uncanny accuracy and speaks conversationally with prospective leads about their wants and needs. Agents who opt into notifications from the app can follow conversations in real time and take over conversations at any point. Otherwise, Aisa’s fully capable of scheduling appointments for you herself.

Aisa can also:

  • Converse with multiple leads simultaneously
  • Nurture leads for up to 12 months or until they convert
  • Update a linked CRM with data gained from conversations with leads
  • Integrate with your existing scheduling tool
  • Reach out to leads across multiple channels, including email and text

Structurely’s chatbot can schedule appointments while agents are in other meetings. (Source)

Adopt PropTech today to boost your business tomorrow

There’s no arguing the value of PropTech tools for agents fielding increasingly tech-expectant clients. However, all new tech tools come with a learning curve. Some agents used to brick-and-mortar methods and processes may put off PropTech adoption simply because they don’t understand how it works.

Luckily, most PropTech companies are aware of these barriers to learning. The best PropTech on the market comes equipped with user onboarding flows or demos that ease new customers into their product and show them the value of it upfront.

Homeward’s sign-up process is built with ease of use in mind.

Take Homeward, for example. The sign-up process is simple and intuitive. You don’t need to spend hours wrangling an unwieldy app, as the app guides you through the process. If you’d feel better speaking with a flesh-and-blood human being, Homeward offers the ability to speak with one of its experienced team members about any of your questions.

Ultimately, PropTech tools like Homeward thrive when the agents that use them do. Let Homeward help your business thrive and start closing deals for your customers today.

3 must-use tech tools to engage millennial homebuyers

The Homeward Team
May 19, 2022
8
 min read

For generations, homebuyers relied on real estate agents to navigate the stressful process of purchasing a home. Customers leaned on agents to minimize their anxieties around finding a house that fit their budget and needs, making an offer, and finalizing a deal. The face-to-face nature of real estate enabled agents to build trust, showcase their expertise, and differentiate themselves through personal interactions.

But the times, they are a-changin’. Millennials comprise the fastest-growing demographic of homebuyers, and their desire for convenience over all else means they behave quite differently than preceding generations. They make 60% of their purchases online instead of in brick-and-mortar stores. They shun phone calls because they’re too time consuming, preferring instead the convenience of email communications. And they prefer to engage in digital spaces, to the point where 41% of millennials prefer to see their own doctors virtually.

These digital preferences require real estate agents to fundamentally change how they approach millennial homebuyers. They still want the personal touch of a knowledgeable agent — they just want it at their convenience. Any real estate agent looking to make a splash with millennials must adapt to their preference for using technology to maximize convenience. Luckily, you don’t need to be a tech guru to attract millennial homebuyers. Here are three easy tech tools you should use to appeal to millennial homebuyers.

SMS marketing tools help you overcome phone-dodgers

If you feel like your millennial prospects are avoiding your calls, you’re probably right. Nearly every millennial owns a cell phone, but they don’t like talking on it. And don’t waste your time leaving them an in-depth message about a great listing: most millennials don’t check their voicemails at all.

But don’t give up yet on your phone-based marketing attempts. Millennials may not love speaking on the phone, but they’re avid texters — 95% of millennials send texts daily. Their love of texting extends to their dealings with businesses, with 75% of them appreciating texts regarding upcoming appointments, reminders, and promotional deals.

Texting opens up an entire avenue of communication with millennials and sidesteps their aversion to answering calls. Texts have a phenomenal 98% open rate, ensuring that your intended audience will at least see the messages you’ve sent. SMS marketing platforms often enable you to drop specific keywords in text messages to foster further engagement. (Think “Text HOME for more details.”) Such messages average a reply rate of 45% — which isn’t too shabby when considering only 19% of people answer phone calls from numbers they don’t know.

Texts command an incredible 98% open rate, making them perfect for contacting millennials. (Source)

Texts are a terrific marketing method for a number of reasons, including:

  1. Spreading the word about a listing or open house
  2. Sending confirmations and reminders for upcoming appointments
  3. Asking leads if they desire more info about a property
  4. Notifying leads of your next available appointment

A variety of SMS marketing tools exist to help agents reach out to millennials through their preferred method of communication. The key to SMS marketing success is finding an affordable platform with robust features. An excellent example is Textedly. This easy-to-use tool allows you to sign up for a 14-day free trial to discover its value before making a commitment. From there, you can choose a plan priced around how many texts you intend to send every month.

Features of Textedly include:

  • The ability to send out mass texts to your entire lead list
  • The ability to customize messages to reflect unique pricing points, locations, and house features
  • The ability to segment lead lists to target users with shared needs, interests, or demographics
  • A free 14-day trial
  • Plans starting at $24 a month

Textedly enables agents to send text messages to their entire lead list. (Source)

Scheduling tools eliminate calendar questions

Use a scheduling tool to minimize the stress of finding mutually convenient times to meet with clients. Imagine this: your SMS marketing efforts with millennials take off. Suddenly, your efforts to appeal to a convenience-obsessed generation have resulted in you being inconveniently busy.

The fact that millennials maintain hectic schedules themselves only compounds scheduling issues. Millennials know they need to move fast to land the home of their dreams, and they don’t want to spend three days texting or emailing back and forth over available appointment times.

Scheduling tools have a distinct advantage over calendars of yore: they grant clients visibility to your calendar and allow them to schedule a time that’s convenient for both you and them. These tools take the pressure off you to parse through your schedule in the heat of the moment and minimize your chances of double-booking an appointment. Yes, your cat calendar hanging above your desk is adorable, but physical calendars simply aren’t practical in a world filled with fast-moving millennials. Even agents who have migrated their traditional calendars from paper to calendar apps on their smartphones still find themselves at the mercy of their customers’ schedules.

Calendly works wonders for scheduling clients. Customers click a link to Calendly that takes them to your calendar and allows them to schedule appointments at their convenience. The app allows you to manually enter your availability day by day or to establish standing working hours for every week. Importantly, it integrates with your existing Google, Outlook, and iCloud calendars to ensure that customers can’t accidentally double-book you.

You can embed Calendly into your website to enable streamlined scheduling from both prospects and existing clients. Other helpful features of Calendly include the ability to:

  • Send Calendly links out in texts and emails
  • Automatically notify clients of appointments via email and text
  • Set different durations for different types of events (e.g., two hours for open houses, one hour for showings)
  • Include links to video conferencing platforms for virtual appointments
  • Start using Calendly at no charge for a basic plan

Calendly’s clean interface simplifies an agent’s scheduling process. (Source)

Async video tools make you a resource to your clients

Millennials love video content. The cohort came of age alongside video smartphones, YouTube, and Netflix. Their love of video extends into the realm of marketing, too: 85% of millennials admit to purchasing a product after watching related video content. A staggering 87% of marketers claim that video marketing leads to a positive return on investment.

Agents who take advantage of the millennial appetite for video content stand to differentiate themselves from the competition. Yes, you should be using video as a lead generation tool, but you should also expand your video reach beyond the realms of lead generation.

Consider asynchronous (async) video tools as a way to encourage continued engagement with your customers. Just because you captured a millennial client as a lead doesn’t mean they’ve suddenly stopped hating phone calls. Instead of going over details about a listing over the phone or trying to take time out of both of your busy schedules to meet, record a short video and let them watch it at their convenience.  

Async videos are great for a number of reasons:

  1. They add a face to proceedings. Videos enhance the personal aspect of the client-agent relationship and remind your customers that you’re more than just a voice over a phone.
  2. They can be used as permanent resources. Record a few videos that cover the questions clients frequently ask and send them a link to the content when needed.
  3. They can be sent to multiple clients. Need to give the same instructions or highlight a great new listing to several leads? Save yourself the hassle of calling each one individually and film a video instead.
  4. You can create virtual home tours. No need to carve out time to have your customers view a house they wind up not liking. Film a quick run-through of a listing and send it to a lead to see whether or not they’re interested.

Loom is the most prominent of the many async video platforms available. Sign-up only takes a few minutes before you’re ready to create engaging videos. The chief benefits of Loom include the ability to:

  • Share your screen to show off listings or go over documents line by line for customers
  • Transcribe and caption videos for maximum accessibility
  • House content in a video library for later use
  • Leave comments under a video to encourage further discussion
  • Password-protect videos containing sensitive information
  • Sign up for free for a limited subscription
  • Upgrade your plan to access valuable features later on with the $8 a month Business plan

Loom allows you to screen share and record your face simultaneously. (Source)

Invest in tech tools for millennials and beyond

The adoption of these types of tech tools enables agents to better engage millennials as the generation hits their peak home-buying years. Millennials aside, these tech tools will help your business run smoother in general and provide you with better avenues for engaging prospects and clients of all ages.

These tools are also an important long-term investment. Gen Z will age into the housing market within the next decade. They’ll have unique preferences of their own, but the future homebuyers of their generation grew up immersed in technology. Adopt tech tools to address the needs of millennials dominating the housing market in the here and now while keeping an eye on the tech-obsessed generation waiting just beyond the horizon.

Add Homeward’s “Buy with Cash” and “Buy Before You Sell” capabilities to your millennial tech toolbelt.

TikTok for real estate agents: waste of time or lead goldmine?

The Homeward Team
May 13, 2022
8
 min read

You can’t have a conversation about marketing nowadays without hearing about TikTok. Some real estate agents swear up and down that it’s the next big thing in lead generation. Others say that TikTok can be a black hole for real estate agents who already fill their days with more reliable methods of attracting new clients.

So is it worth honing your TikTok chops to create new sales opportunities, or is the platform simply a digital playground for younger generations to post their viral videos? See what real estate and social media experts have to say about the merits of using the increasingly popular app to drum up real estate leads.


Goldmine: why real estate agents should use TikTok

Those unfamiliar with TikTok may know it only as a platform where people post short, funny videos. While that’s certainly part of the appeal, the platform has a growing user base and a set of unique features that makes it a perfect channel for real estate marketing efforts.

You meet prospects where they gather

The media often dismisses millennials as unreliable consumers—but don’t make the same mistake. Millennials make up the fastest-growing demographic of homebuyers. The National Association of Realtors reports that millennials currently comprise a whopping 43% of those purchasing homes.

The need to target millennials makes TikTok the perfect platform to focus your marketing efforts on. 39% of millennials in the U.S. have TikTok accounts. Since TikTokers spend an average of 52 minutes a day watching videos within the app, that’s nearly an hour millennials could spend viewing your real estate content.

While TikTok’s user base skews young, older generations also enjoy the app’s short-form videos. 31.3% of TikTok users are older than 40. 78.7 million U.S. users on the platform in 2021, giving you ample marketing opportunities spanning several generations.

You build interest without spending a dime—and potentially making one

TikTok provides a free alternative to other pricy marketing avenues. Yard signs, billboards, and Chamber of Commerce memberships all cost money. Even Facebook and Instagram require payment to increase post visibility to your existing followers, let alone new prospects.

The only things you need to create TikTok videos are a decent smartphone and a bit of ingenuity. TikTok doesn’t hide any of its features behind a paywall. The visual filters and music are all included in a normal TikTok account. TikTok also doesn’t limit organic reach to get businesses to pay for ads. Videos become popular based entirely on how many people watch, like, and comment on the content. Businesses who make engaging videos on TikTok stand a better chance of a wider audience viewing their videos.

TikTok’s robust editing features come free for all users. (Source)

Shaun Connell, founder of  Rental Property Calculator, points out that TikTok isn’t just free; it can be monetized. “While TikTok can be utilized to generate organic leads,” he says, “it can also be monetized on its own, providing your agency with a secondary revenue stream.”

Monetization isn’t automatic, with a user requiring at least 10,000 followers and 100,000 video views within the last 30 days to be eligible. Those who grow their following to achieve this standard are rewarded with monetary kickbacks based on how many views each video receives. TikTok only pays out a few cents per thousand views, so monetization won’t justify quitting your day job. However, the prospect of earning any amount of money gives ambitious agents a prize to set their sights on as they develop their TikTok brand.

You can target your audience based on their region and interests

Most real estate transactions are hyper-local to a specific city or neighborhood. Any content you create and distribute online needs to target those who live in this specific geographical location, so you don’t waste time or money. Facebook and Instagram require businesses to shell out cash for audience targeting as part of their paid ads services. TikTok uses an alternative method that’s free and flexible: hashtags.

Hashtags have been around the internet since the inception of Twitter, but they’re especially important on TikTok. That’s because TikTok’s algorithm factors hashtags into its determination as to which videos to show users. Essentially, if you engage with a video that contains certain hashtags, you’re going to see similar videos that contain the same or related hashtags.

TikTok content creators use hashtags as a free means to narrow down the geographical reach of their posts. This feature comes in handy for real estate agents looking to increase interest in a specific locale. “Through TikTok, I can use location-based hashtags to engage with my target audience without spending heavily on marketing campaigns,” says Anthony Minniti, owner of  Minniti Investments. Hashtags ensure that the people using your video are potential leads. You can’t sell a listing in Austin, Texas, to a TikToker in Reykjavík, Iceland, no matter how good you are at your job.

Hashtags aren’t limited to geographical targeting. Content creators use topical hashtags to focus on users who share an interest in their area of expertise. Real estate agents include “#realestate” in their videos to share their content with those surfing the topic on TikTok. Savvy agents combine topical hashtags with geographical hashtags for maximum results. (Think “#houseflip” alongside “#tallahassee.”)

An example of a TikTok video using topical hashtags. (Source)

Waste of time: why TikTok may not work for real estate agents

TikTok’s free features and massive (and young!) user base appeal to real estate agents looking to use any means necessary to drum up leads. However, there are limitations to the platform that must be considered before you adopt a long-term TikTok marketing strategy.

Hard to stand out in a crowded app

New TikTok content creators often struggle to create videos that make an impact with their target audience. TikTokers crave unique content, which puts its content creators under pressure to craft consistently engaging posts. This fight to create videos that make an impact means real estate agents looking to get leads from the app must commit to posting quality videos day in and day out. Busy real estate agents may simply not have enough bandwidth to dedicate that much time to a single marketing platform.

TikTok videos are renowned for their humor, but educational content also fares well on the app—so long as it’s engaging. Ditch the more conventional tone you use on more “professional” pages like Facebook and embrace the more fun-loving side of your personality. “Have some fun with it,” says Amy Kite, owner and real estate agent at The Kite Team. “The trick is: you’re not trying to attract other realtors. You’re trying to reach people in your specific area (or with an interest in that area) who are casual users of TikTok.”

Specialization helps to differentiate your account and stand out from the rest. You don’t need to create content on every real estate topic. In fact, posting videos on real estate topics that aren’t strongly related may have the opposite effect. A TikToker who engages with your videos showcasing listings in a specific neighborhood may not find your “history of real estate in America” series particularly useful.

Consider specializing in certain subjects and video formats to build a dedicated following, including:

  • Tours of historic houses in your neighborhood
  • Property rate increases over time
  • Before-and-after videos highlighting renovated houses

Need to stick to the short stuff

Real estate agents field questions on more than a few complex topics, but TikTok isn’t the place to dive too deeply into the answers. “TikTok users have notoriously short attention spans, making it difficult to deliver a compelling message in such a short format,” explains Chris Grayson, founder of InfluencerMade.com. “While there are certainly some benefits to using TikTok, I believe that there are more effective platforms for real estate marketing.”

Evidence supports Grayson’s claim. 50% of TikTokers find videos longer than 60 seconds long “stressful.” TikTok’s format makes it too easy to swipe away from a video that doesn’t immediately appear gripping, and users are looking for maximum enjoyment in the shortest time possible. After all, it’s called short-form video for a reason!

Successful TikTok creators find creative ways to shorten the length of their videos. For instance, they often minimize their voice-overs to keep the content highly visual. Luckily, real estate agents should have no issue with finding visual focal points for their TikTok videos. If you find your video requires a lengthy voice-over, save your long-form content for YouTube, a platform where users expect extended and in-depth videos.

An example of a TikTok video using topical hashtags. (Source)

The verdict: invest in TikTok for real estate before it’s too late

Real estate agents who have invested wholesale in TikTok for real estate advertising already see the value in establishing a presence on the app. Madison Sutton, an agent in New York City, now gains leads exclusively from TikTok after just two years on the platform. Another NYC-based agent, Cash Jordan, has doubled his customers since joining.

No single marketing platform is perfect, but it’s hard to find a better way to engage with young homebuyers than TikTok. An incredible eight new users sign up for TikTok every second, cementing the app’s status as the hottest social platform out there. While TikTok has been available in the U.S. for five years, it’s still early days for the social media platform. Develop your brand and take advantage of TikTok’s enormous popularity to advertise your business before you end up behind the real estate marketing curve.

The Homeward Cash Offer makes headlines on NBC Nightly News

The Homeward Team
May 5, 2022
2
 min read

We all know that first-time homebuyers are facing an unprecedented seller’s market. When NBC Nightly News reached out about what our clients and their real estate agents were up against, we knew sharing a personal experience was the best way to illustrate the realities of the current real estate market.

From renter to homebuyer

Meet Kyle, after renting for years, he decided to invest in himself by becoming a homeowner. Kyle lives in Georgia, one of four states where we currently operate (we plan to expand into as many as 20 new markets in 2022). He was in a popular price range, and saw a lot of homes listed “as-is,” but Kyle didn’t want a fixer-upper. And as the end of his lease approached, he had to time his purchase perfectly in order to avoid paying rent and a mortgage at the same time.

Cash is king

Kyle began his home search in January 2021 and by September he had made — and lost — nine offers. But he didn’t want to give up. “I’m an optimist,” he explains. “It drives my girlfriend crazy.” Luckily, Kyle had a great relationship with his Realtor, Jezell Griffin. “I was up against a steep learning curve and she was very patient,” he says. “I learned a few things from her, like: cash is king.”

Homeward Cash Offer FTW 

When his agent first suggested he become a cash buyer with Homeward, Kyle was skeptical — he thought it sounded too good to be true. “I was reading over those contracts thoroughly,” he remembers. But he was impressed and intrigued. And the next time his agent found a home that fit Kyle’s criteria, he made a Homeward Cash Offer —  and won.  

By November, Kyle was getting settled in his new home. Since then, he has renovated the master bedroom and bathroom and, like a lot of new homeowners, is patiently waiting on furniture caught up in supply chain kinks. “I’m loving it. And I want to give a special shoutout to my Realtor, Homeward Advisor, and Homeward Mortgage Loan Officer,” he says. “It means the world to me to be able to continue the legacy of home ownership in my family.”

If you're a homebuyer interested in learning more about becoming a cash buyer, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here.

If you're an agent interested in turning contingent clients into cash buyers, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here.

3 ways to win with Facebook and Instagram real estate ads in 2022

The Homeward Team
May 5, 2022
8
 min read

Most real estate agents don’t need convincing when it comes to the value of using Facebook and Instagram to grow their business. You can build a business account on these platforms within minutes, enabling you to engage with the hundreds of millions of homebuyers using the platforms.

The true challenge lies in what comes next: turning your business pages into lead generation machines. Building digital ads on Facebook and Instagram is harder and less intuitive than building traditional ads. For instance, you contact an outdoor advertising company to place a billboard or a media agency to place a radio ad. However, real estate agents controlling their own Facebook and Instagram pages have to build, execute, and manage digital marketing campaigns themselves. You could hire a digital advertising agency to run ad campaigns for you, but you’ll pay a premium and lose a degree of responsiveness.

Luckily, you don’t need to become a digital real estate marketing expert or hire one to take advantage of Facebook and Instagram’s remarkable advertising capabilities. Use these three tips to build impactful Instagram and Facebook real estate ads to stand out from the crowd in 2022 and beyond.

1. Pay to boost posts to your existing followers

Facebook and Instagram allow you to boost a post to increase your post’s visibility amongst your followers. You can hand Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta a few dollars and increase your update, picture, or video post appearance frequency in your followers’ feeds.

To see the value of boosting posts, you must first understand the concept of organic reach. You may think every single one of your followers on Facebook and Instagram sees each of your general social posts. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of your followers (and occasionally their friends) see your content in their feed.

Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta restricts the organic reach of business page posts. Organic reach simply means the number of people who see the content a business page posts in their feed without paying for wider distribution.  Facebook business pages achieved 100% organic reach at the time of their inception in 2007, meaning every follower saw every post. Now, that percentage hovers closer to a meager 2.5%. Only two or three followers will see your posts on Facebook and Instagram for every 100 followers you have.

The act of boosting a post increases this percentage dramatically. Even a few dollars expands your post’s reach considerably, as you can see in the image below:

(Source)


The account used for this screenshot has only a little over 500 likes. This means spending $8 over the period of a single week increases visibility for a post from roughly 12 people to as many as 335 people. Visibility for this post jumps from 2.5% organic reach rate to a potential 67% paid reach rate for a bit more than a dollar a day.You can boost a post easily by following these simple steps:

  1. Locate the post you’d like to boost on your business page
  2. Click the “Boost post ” button
  3. Select a call-to-action button (if any)
  4. Determine your targeted audience
  5. Choose the amount of time you’d like to boost the post
  6. Type in the amount of money you’d like to spend

An example from Facebook of the “boost post” button. (Source)

Not every post deserves a boost. Spend your ad money smartly and boost posts that:

  • Inform about an important upcoming event like an open house
  • Have strong ROI opportunities, such as a post about a current listing
  • Have already organically achieved a great deal of engagement in the form of “likes” or comments
  • Contain a call-to-action (CTA) that draws readers back to your website

2. Become familiar with Meta’s Ad Manager

You shouldn’t spend your social media ad budget exclusively on boosted posts. If you work the same fishing hole every day for long enough, eventually you’ll run out of fish.

That’s where Meta’s Ads Manager comes in. Ads Manager allows you to build ads and manage campaigns that reach new prospects on both Facebook and Instagram. Even a basic understanding of the Ads Manager’s essential functions will help you take your ad game to the next level. These functions include:

  • Choosing new or existing collateral. Ads Manager allows you to upload fresh images to create a brand-new post. Alternatively, you can choose to use a post already published on your business page and add a CTA that brings prospects directly to your website.
  • Custom audience targeting. Meta allows you to select an audience for your ad based on demographics, geographical location, and even interests. These ad-targeting options help narrow your focus to your users in your market with the highest likelihood of requiring your services.
  • Ad campaign creation. Ads bring the best return when used in conjunction with each other over long periods of time. Meta helps you build and maintain a campaign centered around your specific advertising goals, like building brand awareness or driving real estate leads.
  • Performance analysis. Ads Manager provides real-time data on how your ads perform once they launch. The tool keeps track of important statistics, like how many times people saw your ad (impressions), unique link clicks, and the average cost per click.
Meta’s Ad Manager enables goal-oriented campaign building. (Source)


3. Embrace the art of video

Social users love videos. 88% of them want more video content from brands. This preference for video extends to social media advertising, where video ads fuel a 48% better sales rate than static ads. It also extends to Meta itself. The company’s own own algorithm boosts high-engagement content — and it’s hard to find a better engagement magnet than a good video.

Facebook and Instagram offer several ways to build ads using video, including:

Video ads

Videos help highlight your unique product. Well-done video ads convey your brand and personality better than static ads. The inclusion of movement, sound, and narrative proves more engaging to prospects than a simple picture and a bit of ad copy. Much like static ads, video ads can be built and distributed to new prospects through Ads Manager. You can also boost existing video posts to build credibility with your existing followers.

Success on Meta’s social apps boils down to its algorithm. Per the company itself, Meta’s algorithm favors video ads that:

  • You produced yourself
  • Are not duplicate videos
  • Keep users watching until the end
  • Aren’t clickbait

Live video

Conventional video ads work wonders, but there are other ways to take advantage of video on Facebook and Instagram. 82% of social users prefer to engage with a live video rather than a social post. Use a live video stream to introduce viewers to your team, conduct a virtual open house, or host live real estate Q & As with your followers.

A handy trick for getting the most out of live video involves boosting. Pay to boost a “virtual showing” of a new listing the week before the open house. You should target the boost at local users and set it to expire at the conclusion of the open house. This timely, targeted boosting increases the likelihood of a good turnout.

Stories

Facebook and Instagram Stories are videos or photos users post to their pages that only last 24 hours. Meta based the concept on Snapchat’s Stories feature, which may explain its popularity with younger users: 59% of millennials and 70% of Gen Z users watch Instagram stories regularly.

Facebook Stories appear above your feed as vertically-oriented rectangles with the user’s profile image.

(Source)


On Instagram, Stories appear as circles above the photo grid.

(Source)


Video stories must run shorter than 15 seconds in length. This makes them perfect for quick, intimate snapshots of your professional goings-on, including:

  • Highlighting special features of your listings
  • Capturing snippets of community events
  • Offering a sneak peek at your office culture

You can boost Stories or turn them into full-fledged ads. These paid Stories display to users as they watch other people’s Stories. Pro tip: when creating a Story you intend to also distribute as an ad, include a link back to your website as a CTA to maximize your ROI.

A mockup of an Instagram Story screen
Include a link in your Story to drive traffic to your website. (Source)


Reels

Then there’s Instagram Reels. The rise of rival platform TikTok resulted in Meta’s creation of the short-form video feature in 2020. A Reel video can be up to 60 seconds in length and doesn’t disappear after 24 hours like a Story. This makes them the perfect medium for building educational content for your followers. Use your authority in the real estate space to create videos that address frequently asked questions like:

  • The mechanics of buying and selling homes
  • What to look for in a real estate agent
  • Up-and-coming neighborhoods in your area

Instagram Reels aren’t boostable at this time. However, they can be added to a campaign as separate video ads. Additionally, Meta’s algorithm currently prioritizes Reels in an effort to combat the growing popularity of TikTok. You can track the performance of your Reels videos using Instagram’s Insights analytics tool to determine which types of videos provide the highest engagement.

Consider what happens next

Social media platforms are invaluable as a means of building awareness and driving engagement, but they shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all of your marketing efforts. Ads should send prospects to your website to drum up new leads and sell houses.

This means you must consider where your ads link customers to on your website. You need to maintain your website with the same vigilance you use to cultivate your social media presence. Don’t waste resources on paid Facebook and Instagram ads until you have your website and landing pages updated with current pictures, content, and contact info.

The stress of buying a first home drives one-third of prospective homeowners to tears. Your brilliant social media ads will build trust with those looking to ease the pain of homebuying.

3 ways to create real estate leads without breaking the bank

The Homeward Team
April 29, 2022
9
 min read

Client acquisition makes or breaks a real estate agent’s business. Without customers to assist, an agent’s great home buying and selling expertise will go to waste—and more importantly, they won’t generate any revenue.

Real estate agents invest a great deal of time building their business. They use every available means to drum up traffic. They’re very quickly faced with a critical challenge: You need money to market, and you need to market to get leads. But you need leads to make money, and you need money to market…

Plenty of advertising options exist that won’t hurt your wallet. Before you sink your marketing budget into more expensive methods and platforms, you should exhaust the cheap or free lead gen options available to you. Here are three of the best ways for new and established real estate agents to drum up leads while minimizing spend.

Publish a Newsletter

Newsletters offer a simple, easy way to show off your brand and authority while creating opportunities for face-to-face interactions. Digital newsletters especially have exploded in popularity in recent years. You can send digital newsletters faster and to more targets at once than you ever could with paper newsletters.

Digital newsletters come in handy as your lead list grows. Those sent via email are of particular interest to younger homebuyers, with 60% of millennials expressing a willingness to sign up for multiple newsletters from a source they trust. The simple act of sending a copy of your newsletter to your lead list may reinvigorate leads you’d thought were dead or remind a procrastinating homeowner to give you a call.

Newsletter work especially well as a means for reaching out regularly to existing contacts. However, they can also be used to generate new leads altogether. One way to encourage prospects to sign up for your letter is to include it as a call to action in your website content. This enables you to capture valuable lead information while continuing to put your marketing material in front of them at regular intervals.

Write What You Know

Great content makes for a great newsletter. You don’t need to be a wordsmith to write attention-grabbing articles that appeal to the average homeowner. Readers also don’t want to waste their time reading articles about topics that don’t pertain to them. Stick with your area of expertise and write articles that:

  • Describe the state of the local housing market
  • Focus on hyper-local neighborhood news and community wins
  • Give pro tips on buying and selling homes
  • Share a recent testimonial

Keep It Short

Keep your newsletters brief to keep your readers focused on what’s important. Usually, a single 8.5" x 11" page front-and-back or even a large postcard format will do the trick. Aim to distribute a short monthly or even quarterly newsletter because:

  • Short newsletters enable higher quality articles over fewer editions
  • You shouldn’t dedicate a huge percentage of your lead generation time to a single method
  • Spacing out your publication schedule makes you less likely to over-frequent (and annoy) prospects

Use a Newsletter Template

Not comfortable with document design? Not to worry: Many sites online offer ready-to-use newsletter templates that pop.  For example, Canva offers many free-to-use templates that will help bring your content to the next level.

One of many newsletter templates available for free on Canva.

These templates work well for both digital and traditional formats. You can convert your newsletter into a proper format and send it to your prospects as an image or attachment via email. Additionally, you can create a printable version if you prefer door-to-door distribution.

Add a Personal Touch Through Print

Digital newsletters might be the wave of the future, but don’t count out good ol’ paper newsletters. You can hand valuable content off directly to people in their homes with a printed newsletter, which makes them a terrific value. The caveat with paper newsletter: printing’s not free. However, there are several cost-effective options available to help drive down the cost. Options for printing include:

  • A professional printing business. This is the highest-quality but priciest option. They’re the best option for high-volume orders or for agents looking to print color- or image-heavy newsletters.
  • Office suppliers and parcel delivery businesses. This is a more affordable option for smaller orders. For example, Staples charges 17 cents a copy for black-and-white prints, allowing you to print 500 copies for only $85.
  • Your office printer. An investment in a good printer makes for a cheaper long-term option — and one that you can use for other business-related tasks.

Print may seem old-fashioned to some, but real estate remains a personal business. People want to work with people, especially for something as stressful as buying and selling a home. Printed newsletters give you a chance to meet a prospect in person and an excuse to come back to speak with them in the future. Just remember: the odds are you won’t get the chance to meet every homeowner in the flesh. Include your contact information within your newsletter to drive traffic to your website.

Engage With Your Digital Community on Facebook Neighborhoods

Face-to-face community events were once the bread and butter of a real estate agent’s marketing approach. Recent years have seen many in-person events shift to online platforms, and Facebook remains one of the best places to build community in a digital space.

The Neighborhoods feature allows existing Facebook users to locate and engage with other users who live in the same location. The Neighborhood your business joins immediately becomes a list of potential prospects who live and work close by. You should consider everyone in your Facebook Neighborhood as a potential lead just waiting to be captured.

Neighborhoods function separately from “normal” Facebook. A post in Neighborhoods doesn’t carry over to your standard Facebook feed and vice versa. Participation requires you to build a separate profile, but the extra step is worth it. Neighborhoods users can:

  • Create, join, and post to groups around a specific interest (like Homeward’s Certified Agent group)
  • Issue surveys and polls to local users
  • Make recommendations to fellow Neighbors
Neighborhoods limits interactions to users in the same geographical community. (Source)


Simply joining your Neighborhood won’t net you prospects. You need to engage meaningfully with those in your area. For example:

  • Start or join a Chamber of Commerce–like group and periodically post business updates
  • Post surveys about the housing market and use them as a springboard for further discussion
  • Build posts focused on local listings
  • Advertise upcoming virtual and real-world business events

The content you post to Neighborhoods shouldn’t require hours of your attention daily. Repurpose your existing Facebook business posts, blog articles, or YouTube and TikTok videos to save time on content creation.

Establish Your Authority on YouTube

Never underestimate the power of a good YouTube video. YouTube still reigns supreme as the premier channel for longer, more substantial content. This makes it a perfect advertising means for real estate agents looking to build authority and trust with new prospects.

YouTube enables you to build evergreen content that engages and educates viewers while simultaneously showing off your brand and personality. You can film YouTube videos on relevant real estate topics, such as the process of buying a house before selling your own, that retain relevance for years. Any time you invest in a YouTube video will pay off through long-term returns on investment. On the other hand, filming highly time-sensitive content like a virtual walkthrough of a current listing is best left to short-form video platforms like TikTok.

The best part about YouTube, at least for real estate agents, is that it’s completely free. Once you sign up, you unlock the ability to upload unlimited videos to your channel. You’ll need to verify your account if you plan on adding videos that run longer than 15 minutes.

You also don’t need to drop significant cash to film the videos themselves. Most smartphones boast cameras of sufficient quality to film a great video. Those looking to enhance their video quality will find inexpensive phone tripods, lights, and more online. Pro tip for Apple users: Your Apple Watch doubles as a camera remote and timer.

Keep in mind the following tips when using YouTube to advertise your business:

Show Off Your Expertise

The long-form nature of YouTube videos makes the platform perfect for diving into the intricacies of real estate. Your YouTube channel should contain:

  • How-to videos on subjects like home sale/purchase preparations
  • Conversations around nuanced topics like whether or not you should look to buy or sell
  • Home tours
  • Interviews with industry experts
  • Reviews from highly satisfied customers
  • Hyper-local videos on the real estate climate of specific neighborhoods

Use Your Videos in Other Marketing Materials

YouTube contains the familiar “Like and Subscribe” features of other social media platforms that help build an in-platform following. However, you can share a video from the platform on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more to reach an audience that expands beyond YouTube’s estimated 210 million American users. You can also embed videos in emails or on your website to add pizzazz to your more static marketing materials.

Include a Link to Your Website in the Video Description

Remember that even a million unique views on YouTube don’t automatically equate to a single lead. You need to provide an easy way for your viewers to jump from your video to your website. Most successful YouTube creators rely on links in the video description to send users where they need to go next.

An example of linking in the YouTube video description. (Source)

YouTube allows you to add clickable links to the end of your actual videos, but with a catch: you need to enroll in its Partner Program first. You’ll need to accrue 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers before you’ll qualify for the Partner Program, so it’s a service you should look into once you’ve established a robust following.

Don’t Lose Your Leads

You work hard to capture your leads, so don’t let them fall by the wayside. Buying and selling homes is a time-consuming business. Your initial efforts to represent a new client may fall flat, but their minds may change as they navigate the home buying or selling process in the weeks or months that follow. Without a record of prospect names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers, you’ll have no way of staying in communication with prospects into the future.

Keep track of your leads in a way that best fits your existing budget. Agents in the early days of building their business can create a surprisingly robust lead tracker using Google Sheets. More established agents should consider investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that tracks lead information and collects valuable data and interactions as leads become clients.

No matter what method you choose, keep careful record of your prospects and the last date you reached out to them. Not every single lead is ready to buy or sell today. However, your consistent efforts to build trust with them will put you at the top of their thoughts when the time comes to make a change.

Ready to learn how to find leads buried deep within your directory? Watch this on-demand webinar hosted by Homeward Chief Real Estate Officer Brian Gubernick to discover the keys to unlocking leads in your database.

Four common types of homebuying contingencies

The Homeward Team
March 31, 2022
7
 min read

Why do contingencies matter?

Buyer’s remorse is the worst. And since a new home may be the largest purchase you ever make, buyer’s remorse on a home purchase is a next-level kind of regret. If you’re a homebuyer looking at a new property, you want to feel confident that your investment is solid and your new home is up to snuff. 

That’s why contingencies exist. A contingency is a condition you put in your real estate contract. Contingencies are protective mechanisms that give you an easy way out if certain situations occur.

Contingencies are common in real estate transactions, although they tend to get “waived” more often in competitive markets. Data from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) shows that in 2021, contingency waivers peaked mid-year then began a steady decline

While it may be tempting to wave contingencies to make your offer more competitive, you should always tread carefully because contingencies are one of the few mechanisms that protect you as homebuyer. “With a traditional offer, every homebuyer needs to strike a balance between ensuring appropriate contingencies to protect themselves while also putting a competitive offer on the table,” says Brian Gubernick, Homeward’s Chief Real Estate Officer. “That’s why we created The Homeward Cash Offer. It’s the lowest risk and most flexible way to waive contingencies.” 

There are four common contingencies that every homebuyer needs to work through:

  • Home inspection contingency
  • Appraisal contingency
  • Financing contingency
  • Home sale contingency

Home inspection contingency

Home inspection contingencies are one of the most common home buying contingencies. According to NAR, around 80% of homebuyers include a home inspection contingency in their purchase agreement. Home inspection contingencies are one of the most common home buying contingencies. Katie Collins, Homeward’s Customer Experience Manager, says she’s surprised that many people waive this important contingency. “In a hectic, fast-paced, and emotionally overwhelming market, an inspection gives the buyer peace of mind and confidence in the transaction. They can waive this contingency, but that means they're assuming more risk."

When you include a home inspection contingency in your contract, you specify that you plan to have a certified home inspector inspect the property within a certain timeframe. As the buyer, it’s your responsibility to choose a home inspector and schedule the inspection. 

According to Collins, you’ll typically add contingent language that allows you to terminate the contract if the inspection uncovers problems that the seller isn’t willing to negotiate or repair. If your inspector finds issues, you’ll request the seller to make repairs or lower the price of the property. Your contingency clause would specify how much time they have to respond. If the seller is unwilling to do either, then you have the choice of allowing the contingency to expire  or terminating the contract and recovering your earnest money deposit

When you use a Homeward Cash Offer to buy your new home, your home inspection will occur during the Homeward Purchase. Once the inspection is complete, you’ll work with your Homeward CX Manager and your agent to decide whether you’d like to move forward with the purchase and what repairs or price reductions you’ll request. 

Appraisal contingency

An appraisal contingency dictates that your purchase contract is conditional upon the property being appraised to confirm its value for your mortgage lender. Before finalizing your mortgage, your lender will want to ensure that the purchase price you pay is in line with the home’s fair market value. Lenders typically use three things to determine appraisal values:

  • Comparable, recent home sales (commonly known as ‘comps’)
  • Tax records 
  • An in-person evaluation of the property by a third-party appraiser

If the appraisal comes back in line with the purchase price of the property, the sale will move forward. But if the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, you should connect with your loan officer to discuss your options. You might be able to restructure your loan to make the purchase work. If you’re unable to meet your lender’s requirements, your appraisal contingency allows you to rescind your offer without losing your earnest money.

A Homeward Cash Offer allows you to eliminate the appraisal contingency altogether. We’ll conduct a Preliminary Appraisal during the option period/due diligence of the Homeward Purchase, when we purchase the property on your behalf. When you’re ready to buy the property back from us — what we call the Customer Purchase — your lender will conduct a Final Appraisal

“If you want to make a very aggressive offer and you are willing and able to waive the appraisal contingency, making a Homeward Cash Offer is the lowest risk and most flexible way to do that,” explains Brian Gubernick, our Chief Real Estate Officer. “It's low risk because your clients can see this Preliminary Appraisal during due diligence and use that to make a go/no-go decision. It's flexible because they can still move forward, even if that Preliminary Appraisal comes in lower than their purchase price.”

Financing contingency

A financing contingency (also sometimes called a mortgage contingency) protects you by ensuring you’ll be able to secure sufficient financing for your home purchase. 

In the traditional homebuying process, most people get preapproved for a mortgage before they make an offer. You’ll include your preapproval letter within your offer to give the seller assurance that you can afford to pay for the property. But getting preapproved for a mortgage is different than having final approval, and that means that snags and delays can happen. 

Your mortgage contingency is a clause that specifies that you can back out of the purchase if you’re unable to secure financing within a specific timeframe. You’ll typically include details about your loan (type, amount, maximum interest rate, and points limit) and the contingency timeframe. 

If for any reason you’re unable to secure the necessary financing by the deadline, you’ll be able to cancel the transaction, recoup your earnest money, and walk away. The seller will then be free to re-list the home for other buyers. 

Making a Homeward Cash Offer enables you to skip the mortgage contingency. You’ll be preapproved to shop for a home for up to a certain amount. Sellers prefer cash and cash-backed offers because they are more certain to close without any hiccups. That makes your offer more attractive than contingent offers. 

“I tried winning bidding wars for a year with a regular mortgage company before coming to Homeward,” says Kyle of Georgia, who made — and lost — nine offers in nine months. “I won an offer as soon as I put in my offer with Homeward!”

Home sale contingency

It’s a classic dilemma: If you already own a home and you’re looking to buy a new one, do you sell your existing home first or try to buy a new one first? Figuring out the timing is tough.

You don’t want two mortgage payments. And if you’re like most Americans, a large percentage of your net worth is probably tied up in your existing home and you can’t unlock that until you sell your existing home first. This common situation is the reason home sale contingencies exist.

A home sale contingency gives you a specific amount of time to sell your existing home. If you’re unable to sell your home in that period, you’re free to withdraw your offer and recoup your earnest money deposit. 

Homeward’s Buy before you sell solution was created to solve this challenge. We’ll purchase the home you want with cash before you sell your old home and allow you to move in as soon as we close on it so you don’t have to live in the old house while it’s on the market. As soon as you finalize your mortgage, you buy back the new home from us. And in the meantime, you  have up to six months to sell your old home (and if you can’t, we’ll buy it from you for an agreed-upon price). 

“I think this is the way to buy homes of the future,” says Nathan, a Homeward customer. “We were able to put in a cash offer with no contingencies, and then get the best possible price on our old home. It lowered our stress, made our purchase more competitive, and allowed us to get the best deal on our sale.”

Don’t let contingencies get in the way

Contingencies are an important safety mechanism for homebuyers, but leaning on them too heavily can result in a less attractive offer. As a homebuyer, you need to make the most competitive offer possible. So now that you know all about contingencies, here are some bonus tips on how to remove them from your offer. In the end, the best way to remove common contingencies is to make a Homeward Cash Offer. 

If you're a homebuyer interested in learning more about becoming a cash buyer, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here

If you're an agent interested in turning contingent clients into cash buyers, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here.

Option Period: What it is and how it affects buying and selling texas homes

March 24, 2022
7
 min read

What is an option period?

An option period is a short window of time after your offer is accepted during which you take a closer look at your new home. If you find red flags or major issues during the option period, you can terminate the purchase and get your earnest money deposit (EMD) back from the seller. In fact, during the option period you can terminate the contract for any reason.

If you’re not from Texas, you may have never heard of an option period. That’s because option periods are called different things in different places. Across the United States, due diligence is probably the most common name for an option period, but you may also hear it referred to as the inspection period or contingency period. Whichever name is used, know that it’s referring to the same thing: a finite period of time designed to give you peace of mind as a homebuyer.

You (the buyer) and the seller agree on the length of the option period as one of the terms in your contract. For example, some complex properties with lots of systems (septic, a well, a pool, etc.) require longer option periods. While this period can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, Redfin reports that a typical option period is between one and two weeks long

Sellers expect to see an option period in a residential real estate contract, but — generally speaking— the longer the option period is, the less competitive your offers is. To get the privilege of having an option period as a homebuyer, you’ll pay an option fee to the seller. (Option fees typically range from $100-$500. By paying this fee, you’re purchasing the right to back out of the purchase for any reason during the option period. If for some reason you need to extend the option period, you’ll pay an additional fee. You may dread the idea of an additional fee, but it’s worth it. Here’s why:

  • Without an option period: If you end up terminating your purchase for a legitimate reason—like serious structural problems and a bad septic system the seller refuses to fix —you’ll forfeit your EMD, which is typically 1-3% of the purchase price of the home. On a $350,000 home, that means you could lose anywhere from $3,500 - $10,500. 
  • With an option period: say you pay a $500 option fee for a seven-day option period. If you decide you want to walk away on day six, you can do so without issue. You’ll lose the $500 option fee, but you’ll recoup your significantly larger EMD. 

What happens during the option period?

Option periods are baked into residential real estate contracts in Texas for a number of reasons. The three most common things that happen during this period include:

Home inspections

A home inspection is a thorough examination of a home by a licensed home inspector. After the inspection, your home inspector will issue a detailed report on the condition of your new home. They’ll help you understand any concerns or necessary repairs so you can address them with the seller before finalizing your purchase contract. 

Buying a home is a huge investment and your home inspector is an invaluable member of your team. As an experienced professional, they’ll use their knowledge to help you avoid any major missteps. 

Home appraisals 

Home appraisals are typically ordered by your mortgage lender. During the appraisal process, an appraiser—an independent and unbiased professional—will assess the fair market value of your potential home. Your lender will use the results of the appraisal to determine how much money they’re willing to lend you for the property. 

Today there is an appraiser shortage so most homebuyers aren’t able to get an appraisal during the option period. When you use our Buy with cash or Buy Before you sell solutions, you’ll benefit from our Dual Appraisal Advantage. It works the same way with either program: 

  1. You place a cash offer on your new home (using Homeward’s cash).
  2. Once the offer is accepted, Homeward conducts a Preliminary Appraisal during the option period. This takes up to five days (so your option period can be as short as five days, making your offer more attractive to the seller). 
  3. Homeward buys the home and you move in.
  4. You buy back the home from Homeward once your new mortgage is ready. During this period, your lender conducts a Final Appraisal. If the Final Appraisal comes in lower than our Preliminary Appraisal, you can adjust your loan as necessary or terminate the contract and keep your EMD. 

Traditionally, homebuyers have had to choose between moving quickly and having peace of mind. But when you make a Homeward Cash Offer, you can have both. You’re able to make a more competitive offer with confidence. 

How should buyers think about option periods?

“The chief benefit of the option period is it allows the homebuyer time to determine if they want to move forward with the purchase. If not, they'll face little to no penalty,” says Katie Collins, Customer Experience Manager at Homeward. “In a hectic, fast-paced, and emotionally overwhelming market, this time gives the buyer space to breathe and evaluate both the condition of the home and the costs of moving forward.” In a perfect world, the information you gather in the option period makes you more confident about moving forward.

That said, it’s important to recognize that while paying the option fee and including an option period provides more reassurance, asking for too much time may make your offer less competitive. 

In general, the shorter your option period, the more attractive your offer is to the seller. You’ll want to strike a balance by making sure you have enough time to get the information you need, while also finalizing the deal as soon as possible to give the seller the certainty they crave. There are several things you can do to help achieve this:

  • Always get mortgage preapproval ahead of time. While preapproval may not equal final mortgage approval, it dramatically speeds up the process and allows you to move much faster. If you’re making a Homeward Cash Offer, get approved before you start house hunting. That way, you’re ready to make a cash offer as soon as the home you love hits the market.
  • Choose an inspector. Research and choose a home inspection company before you even make an offer. Reach out to them to check their availability and see how much notice they require to perform an inspection. You can also check with the seller’s agent to confirm the utilities are on so you avoid delays.
  • Use our Buy with cash or Buy before you sell solution. "In today’s market, any contingency can make your offer less attractive to sellers,” explains Brian Gubernick, Homeward’s Chief Real Estate Officer. Many real estate markets are highly competitive right now, but even in a cooler market using a cash offer can set you apart and help you save a lot of money. Your Homeward Cash Offer includes an option period, so you’ll have the time you need to do your due diligence before finalizing the deal.

How do sellers feel about option periods?

We’ve hinted at it above, but let’s be clear: Sellers often have a very different view of option periods than buyers do. For a seller, the goal is usually to lock in the best offer on their property as soon as possible. Option periods delay sellers from achieving that goal, so a seller is typically motivated to shorten the length of the option period (or eliminate it altogether).

“While including an option period is a common practice in Texas real estate, it’s not a mandatory requirement,” explains Collins. Sellers are free to reject offers that include option periods or to make counter offers without option periods. The inclusion of the option fee often makes the idea of an option period more palatable to a seller — they’ll lose a few days if you walk away, but they’ll keep your option fee—but it’s still a small amount of money compared to actually selling the property.

Bring your best offer to the table

As a buyer, you need to make sure you make the most competitive offer you can, while still ensuring you’re making a great investment. 

If you're a homebuyer interested in learning more about becoming a cash buyer, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here.

If you're an agent interested in turning contingent clients into cash buyers, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here.

How to buy and sell a house at the same time 

The Homeward Team
March 5, 2022
7
 min read

Forty percent of Americans say buying a home is the most stressful life event according to a 2018 HousingWire survey. But do you know what’s even harder? Buying a new home while you’re selling your old one. Especially lately. 

“The competition is through the roof,” says Brian Gubernick, Homeward's Chief Real Estate Officer. “That is the greatest challenge for homebuyers to deal with right now. You’ll have to be able to move quickly when you find the home you want to buy.”

"Buying a home should be fun and exciting, but many of my buyers were anxious," says Tim Heyl, who was a nationally recognized real estate agent before starting Homeward.

According to the Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors, the average number of offers received on “most recent sale” was 3.7 in January 2022. This competitive market is largely the result of overwhelming demand, low inventory, and historically low-interest rates. 

So how do you win? “Sellers are being inundated with offers. You can make yourself stand out by being ready to make a competitive bid,” says said Brett Bivenour, Chief Technology Officer at Nationwide Mortgage Bankers. “Have your financing ready while others find themselves knee-deep in the loan application process.” 

Get your financial ducks in a row now by familiarizing yourself with all of your options, and considering the pros and cons of each.

Sell your old home, then buy a new one

This is the traditional list-buy transaction. Your agent lists, markets, and sells your old home and then you buy the new one. 

Pros

  • This is definitely the safest choice. There are fewer financial risks when you wait to buy. 
  • You don’t have to include a home sale contingency when you make an offer on your new home.
  • You’ll know exactly how much equity you have and what your budget is. 

Cons

  • You’ll be living in the home while it’s on the market. That means keeping it clean and vacating it for open housings and showings — often on short notice. 
  • If you can’t find a new home right away, you’ll have to rent from the seller or put your stuff in storage while you live in temporary housing. The latter would also mean paying for two moves: from the old house to storage, and then from storage to the new home. 
  • You may have to rush to find a new home as soon as you sell the old one. “You also risk missing out on your dream home if it comes on the market before your old home sells,” says Sarah Lopez, vice president of Homeward Mortgage. “You can, of course, make an offer before your old home sells, but you’ll have to include a home sale contingency, which makes it less likely to win.” 

Sell to an iBuyer

Instant buyers or iBuyers use technology and algorithms to quickly buy and flip houses. The national market share of home purchases by instant buyers or iBuyers hit an all-time high of 1.3 percent -- around 70,000 houses -- in 2021. But in some metros, that number was as high as 6%.

Pros

  • iBuyers optimize for speed — the process will be fast. 
  • You don’t have to fix up and stage your house to put it on the market. The iBuyer will take care of any issues they find when they do an inspection. (That said, iBuyers will deduct the necessary repairs and updates from the offer price.)
  • You often get to choose the close date, which allows you to continue to live there while you shop for your new home. Then, when you’re ready, you can quickly make an offer without a home sale contingency because you can choose to have the iBuyer close on the old home right before you close on the new home.

Cons

  • You’re leaving equity on the table when you use an iBuyer. A 2019 Marketwatch study found that once fees and other costs are included, people who sold to iBuyers netted 11% less than people who sold their home on the open market.
  • iBuyers aren’t great for neighborhoods either. iBuyers grab inventory before it hits the market, make superficial updates to the home, and then put these homes back on the market at a higher price.
  • Selling a home can be an emotional experience. Many people lean on their agents during the process. But iBuyers rely on tech, not trusted real estate professionals, so you’ll navigate the journey without a guide.


Use a bridge loan

A bridge loan acts as a link between the purchase of one property and the sale of another. These are a short-term solution that leverages the equity in your home as collateral. “If you’re selling your home but haven’t finished the process before you agree to buy a new one, a bridge loan could be right for you,” says Bivenour. 

Pros

  • Bridge loans give you access to funds quickly and let you buy a new home before you sell your old one.  
  • Bridge loans give you the ability to skip temporary housing between selling and buying and help you avoid moving twice.
  • Bridge loans can eliminate the need for a home sale contingency.

Cons

  • Lenders charge higher interest rates for these very short-term loans. You should expect to pay more than you would for a conventional loan. 
  • Lenders also typically charge higher origination fees for bridge loans. “These fees vary quite a bit,” says Lopez. “But I have seen as high as 5% in origination fees.” 
  • You will need to make two mortgage payments — one for the new home and one for your old home — until the old home sells. You might even have to make bridge loan payments (essentially a third mortgage) until the old home sells. This means the lender will have much higher income requirements. 

A new option: buy before you sell

The traditional list-buy transaction is backward according to Heyl. “Buyers can’t confidently make an offer on a new home until they sell the old one,” he explains. “But they do.” And in the process, they sometimes make very bad decisions — or miss out on a home they love. Heyl got sick of running into this same problem over and over with clients. 

So, In December of 2018,  he bought the home his clients wanted with his own money and let them move into it — before they sold their old home, creating the ability for them to buy before they sold. “That cash unlocked the home equity my clients had tied up in their house,” he explains. Then they sold their old house and got a mortgage to buy the new house back from him. Homeward’s first service, Buy before you sell, was born.  “My cash made the process easier, calmer, and more certain,”

When you buy before you sell, you can skip the open houses and showings. Your agent will put your old home on the market after you move into the new one. Avoid putting your stuff in storage, moving twice, or paying two mortgages — and spend zero days bunking with your in-laws. 

“[Buy before you sell] made the process of buying a new house stress-free,” says Chris, a Homeward customer. “We were able to make a cash offer, which was very important in this seller’s market. This allowed us to take our time getting our home ready to sell and put it on the market at a convenient time for us.” Jennifer, another Homeward customer, points out a few other advantages: “Because we used Homeward, we were able to spare our children the many disruptions inherent in listing our house while still living there. And we were able to complete renovations and get top dollar for our old house.”

You will pay a convenience fee for the ability to become a cash buyer and buy before you sell. You’ll also pay rent to cover the carrying costs between the time Homeward buys the home and you buy it back. But according to a recent article on Realtor.com, “The cost of obtaining a cash-backed offer or cash offers is not much higher than the 3.7% to 4.4% average percent above the list price that buyers have already been offering to sweeten their offer.” 

Wondering which finance option is best for you? Ready to buy a new home with cash before you sell the old one? Schedule a call with a Homeward Advisor or get started now.





How do cash offers on houses work?

The Homeward Team
March 3, 2022
11
 min read

Imagine you’ve just found your dream home. There’s an open house scheduled for tomorrow.

You scramble to find a babysitter for your kids and rush to get there on time. Turning onto the block, you’re shocked to see every parking spot on the street is taken. There’s a small crowd of people standing on the front steps of your dream home. You’re normally a nice person, but these people have just gone from being random strangers to your competition.

This scenario might sound far-fetched, but countless people have found themselves in this exact situation over the past few years. What are you supposed to do? How can you stand out from the crowd?

Use a cash offer.

Bringing a cash offer to a seller is the strongest way to separate yourself from the pack in a seller’s market and the best way to give yourself more negotiating power in any market. But not all cash offers aren’t created equal so it’s important to do your research ahead of time.

Here are 10 questions you should ask to understand how cash offers work before you choose a cash offer program.

In this article:

    Cash offers sound straightforward. Pay with cash, right?

    At the broadest level, cash offers are pretty simple to define. A cash offer is when a homebuyer offers a home seller the complete cost of the house without any kind of mortgage or financing contingency involved.

    While that might seem pretty simple, making a cash offer is a bit more involved than simply handing a bag of cash to the seller. And since the details of every cash offer program differ, it’s important to understand the big picture of how cash offer programs work.

    At a high level, most cash offer programs involve several steps:

    1. Pre-approval. You get approved for a specific loan amount and start shopping for a home.
    2. Offer. You work with your agent agent to make a cash offer with the cash offer company as the buyer.
    3. Closing. The offer gets accepted and the company finalizes their purchase of your new home.
    4. Buyback. Once your mortgage is finalized, you buy your home back from the company.

    How much do cash offers cost?

    Fees for cash offer programs vary widely.

    The fee for this service is usually based on a percentage of the purchase price of your new home. These fees normally range from 1-5%. According to a recent article on Realtor.com, “The cost of obtaining a cash-backed offer or cash offers is not much higher than the 3.7% to 4.4% average percent above the list price that buyers have already been offering to sweeten their offer.”

    On top of this fee, additional fees, credits, and discounts may apply. For instance:

    • You may get a credit at closing when you use the company’s preferred mortgage provider.
    • You may pay rent for the period of time between when the company buys the home for you and when you buy it back.

    If there’s a moral to this story, it’s that you should always do your research before choosing a cash offer company to work with.

    A great first step is looking at the company’s pricing. Easy-to-find, transparent pricing should give you more confidence that you won’t be in for any unhappy surprises further down the road.

    If a company's fees are hard to understand from their website, do your due diligence before moving forward.

    Can I still work with my own real estate agent?

    Every cash offer company approaches real estate agents differently. Some allow you to work with any real estate agent you’d like and others omit the agent altogether. But most dictate that you choose an agent from their list of preferred partners.

    Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. And, according to a 2018 survey by Homes.com, 40% of Americans say buying a new home is one of the most stressful life events in modern life.

    “Working with a local agent that you've built a relationship with means you control who will shepherd you through what can be a stressful process,” explains Julie Youngblood, a Homeward partner lead and nationally recognized real estate coach. “If you have an existing relationship with an agent and you want to work with them, make sure you choose a cash offer program that gives you that freedom.”

    How soon can I move in after using a cash offer?

    When you’re excited about a new house, you don’t want to wait 30+ days to move in. The good news is that some cash offer companies allow you to move in as soon as they purchase the home on your behalf.

    You won’t technically own the home yet — the company will — and they’ll typically charge you rent, so it’s important to ask a few questions about how that works:

    • Do they mark up rent?
    • Is the rent prorated?
    • Is there a security deposit?
    • When does rent begin? When does it end?
    • Do you need renter’s insurance?

    Being able to move in right away is especially helpful if you also have a home you need to sell. Selling a home while living in it is a major pain. You’re always trying to keep the place spotless, and you’re constantly forced to leave so prospective buyers can check it out. When you use cash to buy before you sell, you can move out before you list your old home and skip the showings.

    “We were able to spare our children the many disruptions inherent in listing our house while still living there,” explains Jennifer, a homebuyer who used a cash offer to buy a new home before she sold her old one.  “We were able to complete renovations [after we moved out] and get top dollar for our old house.”
    This all sounds too good to be true. Is it?

    This all sounds too good to be true. Is it?

    Nope. Cash offer programs are a welcome evolution of the traditional real estate transaction and they are very real. In fact, in 2021 nearly one-third (30%) of homes were purchased with cash. Of course, some of these cash offers came from truly wealthy individuals and investors with very deep pockets. But because of  historically low inventory, competitive interest rates, and a housing shortage, many of the other cash buyers were people like you who leveraged cash offer programs to make their offer stand out in a competitive market.

    “Honestly, [we] thought it was too good to be true,” says Katherine of Texas. “We were moving from Midland to the Bastrop Area. The builder we wanted to buy from refused our contingency sale offer so we went to Homeward. They helped us buy the house we wanted. We would not have the amazing house we have now without them. It was an amazing experience.”

    That said, a little skepticism is healthy. Check out the Google Reviews for any company you’re considering working with. As far as the seller is concerned, they’ll get a “proof of funds” letter with the offer. This is the company’s way of proving  that they have the cash to make good on the offer.

    Will you buy my old home, too?

    “We buy your house with cash!” You’ve probably seen signs like these on the side of the road, claiming to offer top dollar for your old home. While they’re common, the businesses that post these signs aren’t the type of cash offer we’re talking about — they’re wholesalers. They buy homes at a discount and then sell them to investors.

    Instant buyers or iBuyers also buy homes directly from consumers. These companies use technology and data to make an offer on your home in minutes. But iBuyers optimize for speed, not equity. So when you sell to an iBuyer, you’re leaving money on the table.

    While cash offer programs don’t buy your old home instantly, some of them will promise to buy your old home if it doesn’t sell after a certain amount of time. Think of this feature as an insurance policy. You have a guaranteed buyer if you need it, but you get to try selling your old home for top dollar on the open market first.

    Real estate agents like Britni Davison appreciate this because they’ve watched too many clients rush the list-buy process. “As a Realtor, I love the Homeward product as a solution for clients who need to buy before they sell in order to keep their lives moving forward during a move,” she explains.

    Do I have to use a specific mortgage company?

    Some cash offer companies require you to use a specific mortgage company when you work with them. With other cash offer companies — including ours— using the preferred lender is optional (and may include some incentives).

    If the cash offer program you’re considering requires you to work with a certain lender, do your research. Make sure they offer the loan type and terms you want and that the rates and fees are competitive. “Don’t focus solely on rate,” says Sarah Lopez, vice president of mortgage at Homeward. “Look at the cost at a given rate. For instance, 2.875% with $5,000 in points isn't necessarily better than 3.000% with no points. Ask your lender to see rate options and compare the costs at the same rate across lenders.”

    If using an affiliated lender is optional, investigate the incentives. “Does the company offer you a seller’s credit during the buyback?” asks Lopez. “Is the process quicker? Will you work with a loan officer who will help you understand your options?”

    Does this cash offer work with the mortgage I need?

    There are four common types of mortgage:

    • Conventional loans - mortgages that are not backed by a government entity. This is the most common type of home mortgage in the United States.
    • VA home loans - mortgages from the Department of Veterans Affairs, designed for active-duty military personnel, veterans, and surviving spouses.
    • FHA loans - mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA loans typically enable buyers with lower credit scores to make lower down payments.
    • Jumbo loans - jumbo loans exceed the underwriting guidelines of conventional loans, typically because they’re for more money than the loan limits for an area.

    Very few cash offer programs work with all of these different types of loans. So make sure you can get the loan type you need before you waste too much time and energy.

    Will I need to make a bigger earnest money deposit (EMD) for a cash offer?

    Earnest money is the deposit you put down to show the seller you’re serious about buying a home. While you offer EMD upfront, it’s not an extra fee. Your earnest money deposit gets applied as a credit to the purchase price when you close on your new home.

    EMD usually ranges from 1% - 5% of a home’s purchase price. When you’re working with a cash offer program, you can typically expect to put down a similar amount of earnest money.

    Why do sellers prefer cash?

    When it comes to buying a new home, cash is king and queen. There are two big reasons sellers prefer cash offers:

    1. Cash offers are less risky for the seller. When you buy a home with a traditional offer, there are a lot of dependencies attached. Your offer might be contingent upon you getting a loan, selling your original home, or the appraisal. Each contingency increases the risk of the sale not closing successfully, which puts the seller in a tough position.
    2. Cash offers close faster. Most sellers want to sell quickly. They don’t want to deal with never-ending showings or open houses. And most importantly, they want to get their equity out of the home as soon as possible.

    This explains why cash offers are four times more likely to beat financed bids. “Sellers can be confident that [a cash sale] is going to close without hiccups or surprises,” explains Tim Heyl, our Founder and CEO.

    More >> Making a cash offer on a home: everything you need to know

    How do I become a cash buyer?

    The approval process for becoming a cash buyer works much the same way as getting approved for a mortgage does. The process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the company you use. It’s a good idea to get approved to buy when you start looking for a new home. That way, you’re ready to make an offer as soon as the home you love comes on the market.

    If you're a homebuyer interested in learning more about becoming a cash buyer, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here.

    If you're an agent interested in turning contingent clients into cash buyers, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here.


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