Broker Feature: Chris Hardy’s Favorite IRES Tools for Increased Productivity

Technology is rapidly changing the way the entire real estate industry operates. At IRES, we strive to provide brokers with access to the latest technological advances and integrate the best and most innovative tools available into our proprietary MLS system. We recently added a pair of new tools, Graphiq and Everlance, which will help brokers provide their clients with more in-depth data while saving them time. These additions came at the ideal time as Colorado’s spring and summer real estate rush is rapidly approaching.

One real estate broker taking advantage of our homegrown MLS system is Chris Hardy and his team at Elevations Real Estate. Hardy has been licensed since 2003, and Elevations is in its fifth year of existence. Located in Old Town Fort Collins, Elevations’ focus is local — the local community, client base, businesses and economy. Elevations is a modern real estate brokerage, focused on innovation and maintaining a technological advantage in order to stay out in front of an ever-evolving market.

“The biggest challenge with IRES is picking your favorite feature,” Hardy said. “There’s just so many things that IRES does well, so narrowing that down and keeping up with all of the cool things that they continue to add can pose a challenge.”

When asked about his favorite IRES MLS features for increased productivity, Hardy listed carts, MySite, mobile functionality and the IRES customer service.

Cart Feature:
While “old school”, the cart feature changed the way Hardy can aggregate listing data for his clients and he noted that it’s a good way to organize data, working from macro to micro.

“I don’t have to bounce back and forth between carts,” Hardy said. “I can throw data into one cart and extract it from that cart into another. It streamlines my ability to manage data and create reports.”

MySite:
Hardy also discussed how valuable MySite is, in terms of maintaining regular, meaningful communication with clients.

“If a new listing comes on the market, I’m notified AND my clients are notified instantly,” Hardy said.  “Once we have the information about the new listing, we can be first in for showings – that’s an advantage that Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, RealEstate.com, and even REALTOR.com can’t match!”

Unlike some other MLS systems that operate on a 15 or 20 minute delay, the real-time ability of IRES’s MLS system gives Hardy an advantage with MySite automated searches.

 Mobile Functionality:
The best things about IRES, according to Hardy, is the increase in productivity the mobile functionality of the system provides. Mobile IRESis allows brokers to quickly access listings and perform advanced searches while on the road from a smartphone or tablet.

“Real estate is not a career, its a lifestyle,” Hardy said. “I’m not tied to a laptop or my office and I can list and sell real estate wherever I have a cell signal. The mobile aspect and not having to be in the office is critical to productivity because we are always on the go.”

Customer Service:
Finally, Hardy touted the numerous benefits of the customer service culture we’ve cultivated at IRES, citing consistent, excellent service.

“Day in and day out, they’re super helpful,” Hardy said. “They are beyond a shadow of a doubt, the backbone that keeps IRES moving. I know most of the folks by name, and IRES sets the bar for what excellent customer service looks like.”

If a broker ever has a question or trouble operating the MLS system, the customer service team is always on hand to quickly solve the problem or answer the question.

With the bustling spring real estate season in full swing, and a busy summer season right around the corner, the time is now to take advantage of everything our in-house MLS system has to offer.

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The MLS Miracle

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Hearing Held on PHH v. CFPB

On May 24, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in the case of PHH Corp. v. CFPB. The court examined whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) single director structure is unconstitutional and whether the CFPB exceeded their authority when interpreting the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The bulk of the oral arguments focused on the constitutionality argument, rather than the RESPA concerns.

Initial reports indicate the court is unlikely to rule the CFPB is unconstitutionally structured (rejecting the previous three-judge panel decision) but will uphold the RESPA interpretation in favor of PHH (and NAR) issued by the three-judge panel in October. Recall, the three-judge panel held that payments for bona fide services provided and made at fair market value do not violate RESPA, reinforcing NAR’s support of marketing service agreements.

The court will likely publish their decision sometime in the fall at the earliest. In the meantime, the CFPB continues to issue enforcement actions on RESPA related concerns, as evidenced by the recent Consent Orders. NAR continues to work with the CFPB on these matters and the impact on the real estate industry.

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NAR Opposes USDA Reorganization

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided a report to Congress proposing their reorganization. The new plan creates an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs. However, it also eliminates the Under Secretary of Rural Development, a department which includes rural housing programs. Instead, rural development agencies will report directly to the USDA Secretary.

While the USDA report calls this move an “elevation” of the program, NAR is concerned that it will undermine the importance of these programs, which provide valuable access to housing financing in rural communities. USDA is not required to eliminate an Under Secretary to create a new position, so elimination of this area is unnecessary. NAR sent a letter to Congressional members with jurisdiction over USDA, asking them to retain the Rural Development Under Secretary, and keep these critical programs fully functioning.

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NAR – Tax Reform Could Hurt Homeowners

The National Association of Realtors® has published a study focusing on the impacts of comprehensive tax reform. While the study did not say so, the reforms identified in the study closely mirror President Trump’s proposed tax reform plan. *

NAR’s study focused on how lower and consolidated marginal tax rates would impact income taxes. Specifically, Lowering and consolidating tax rates to three rates with a top rate of 33 percent, doubling the standard deduction, eliminating all itemized deductions other than charitable contributions and mortgage interest, and eliminating personal exemptions, which is comparable to several other income tax proposals released in the past few years. The study indicates the reforms would result in higher income taxes for those with an adjusted gross income (AGI) between $75,00 and $250,000 and lower taxes for another with an AGI over $200,000.

In addition, the study concludes comprehensive tax reform would impact the demand for owner-occupied housing by reducing the number of homeowners who claim the mortgage internet deduction, eliminating the itemized deduction for property taxes and decreasing the marginal tax rate. The authors conclude the after-tax cost of homeownership would increase and home prices would fall in the short run as housing becomes a less attractive investment. Read NAR’s summary here:
http://narfocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/26/2906.pdf

* The Trump Plan recommends a top rate of 35 percent, doubling the standard deduction and eliminating deductions except for the mortgage interest and charitable contribution deduction.

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Independence Institute Considering Transportation Ballot Measure

John Caldera of the Independence Institute is considering a transportation initiative for the November ballot. “Fix Our Damn Roads” has been approved by the Secretary of State’s title board with signatures due from voters by August 7. The proposal would ask voters to authorize the State to issue $2.5 million in bonds for transportation funding with a list of projects for which the proceeds would be spent, including North I-25, South I-25, and I-70 West. It specifically excludes transit projects. The Institute is looking for allies because it’s estimated the cost to gather signatures is $1.2 million and another $3 million for a campaign.

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Council Approves Agreement for Broadband Feasibility Study

The City of Greeley has allocated $50,000 and Windsor has appropriated $35,000 for a broadband study. According to Assistant City Manager Victoria Runkle, “both cities know they have some broadband infrastructure that might be useful to ensure the best possible service to residents and businesses. Given both cities were going to conduct a feasibility study and because both share boundaries and other infrastructure where broadband assets may reside, it makes sense to issue one joint RFP (request for proposal) rather than two separate ones.”

While the Council may have approved the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Windsor, it must get approval from voters to study the feasibility of creating its own broadband infrastructure or allowing a private entity to do so. In 2005 SB-152 passed the legislature after heavy lobbying from internet providers. It generally prohibits local governments from considering or providing broadband without voter permission. The Council is scheduled to discuss putting such a measure on the fall ballot at its next regular meeting on June 20. Note: Longmont is the only municipality in Northern Colorado with its own internet utility. Fort Collins and Loveland received permission from their voters to research the issue in 2015.

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Habitat Receives Affordable Housing Designation for Sierra Vista

The City Council approved a request by Habitat for Humanity for an Affordable Housing Designation in the Sierra Vista subdivision near the intersection of 14th Street SW and S Lincoln Avenue. Habitat owns 25 lots and plans to build 40 homes for residents living between 30 and 60 percent of the Area Median Income. The designation is the first of a two-part process. It allows Habitat for Humanity to lock-in development fees, qualify for expedited development review, and qualify to request a waiver of development fees. Next month Habitat will request a fee waiver for the project.

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Council Approves Capital Expansion Fees

On June 6, the City Council approved increased capital expansion fees (CEFs) for parks, police, fire and general government. The Fort Collins Board of Realtors®, the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders Association of Northern Colorado expressed concerns with the 2016 original proposal and successfully convinced the Council to adopt lower fees saying housing would take on more of the burden for new infrastructure than commercial development.  (More detailed information on the fees can be found in my May 24th update available here: https://ires-net.com/ires-mls-blog.) In addition, the Council approved the creation of a new citizen task force to address future fee structures and review timelines for implementing them.

While the Council’s decision to approve lower CEFs is a victory, the coalition remains concerned because the City is also considering updated capital & transportation, water, and electrical capacity CEFs. It is expected that those fees will be considered by Council next spring.

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Council to Consider Short-Term Vacation Rental Regulations

The City Council gave the staff permission to proceed with short-term vacation rental (STR) regulations at its June 6 meeting. The draft regulations presented to Council are relatively simple compared to those enacted in other cities, such as Boulder.

Currently, Longmont’s Land Development Code and Building Code currently do not allow short-term vacation rentals of less than 30 days in residential zoning districts. However, with the rising popularity of websites like Airbnb and VRBO, the City felt it was time to create regulations permitting STRs so the City can collect sales tax revenues and license fees for STRs and ensure they do not have an unfair advantage over hotels and B&Bs.

The regulations would allow STRs as a temporary use in all residential zones with a maximum stay of 30 days or less. The regulations would apply to owner-occupied and investment properties. Owners would be required to get a sale and use tax license and comply with the City’s lodging tax.

Some members of Council were clearly not happy with the draft regulations. Joan Peck said allowing investment properties to be used as STRs would hurt neighborhoods and suggested their use as STRs should be prohibited. Polly Christensen argued it was treating homes like commodities and wanted additional restrictions such as one STR per block. Other Council members were more positive and focused on tweaking the draft to ensure life and safety inspections and exempting investment homes with more than five bedrooms from expensive sprinkler requirements. Ultimately, Gabe Santos made a motion to proceed with the regulations, which passed over the objection of Peck and Christensen. Staff will now prepare an ordinance for Council review.

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