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Rocket Mortgage Amazon Echo Skill Gets Major Update

Amazon Echo

I’m always looking for new tech to make my life easier. I got an Amazon Echo1 early last year, and the device has been an absolute revelation. I have a physical disability, so the ability to control the lights, turn on my television and change the radio station without having to move is an absolute dream. I’ve even gone so far is to use the device as an intercom to call between rooms.

The Echo can also be a real timesaver. In December, we launched our Rocket Mortgage® skill for Amazon Echo. Since then, you’ve been able to ask for mortgage rates and make your monthly payment. However, we’re obsessed with finding a better way around here and are constantly innovating in the mortgage process.

I can order a case of white chocolate macadamia nut nutrition bars with my Echo, so why can’t I look into my mortgage options just as easily? With the updates to the Rocket Mortgage skill, Alexa just got a lot more mortgage smarts. Let’s take a look at what you can do.

How Much Home Can You Afford?

If you’re just starting to kick the tires on getting a new home, the Rocket Mortgage skill now has a prequalification calculator built in.

For the remainder of this post, I’m going to call the voice of the Echo “Alexa” because that’s the default and I want to be consistent. However, any of these commands will work when you say “Amazon,” “Echo” or “computer” if you happen to have one of those wake words.

After asking Alexa to open Rocket Mortgage, you can then follow up by asking her, “How much of a mortgage can I qualify for?”

The system will then take you through a series of prompts, including asking about your household income, monthly expenses, assets and investments as well as your estimation of your credit score.

From the information collected, we’re able to give you an estimate of how much you could spend on a home. While not official, it’ll give you a starting point to think about before moving forward.

Mortgage Payment Calculator

Whether you’re looking to figure out the monthly payment on a purchase or refinance, we can help you calculate it.

With the purchase calculator, you supply the purchase price of the home you’re looking at, the down payment you’re looking to make, your desired mortgage term (between 8 and 30 years) and an interest rate.

On the refinancing side, Alexa will calculate a mortgage payment based on the balance of the loan, the term and the interest rate.

Talk to a Home Loan Expert

If you like what you hear after going through the calculators, you can ask Alexa to connect you with a Home Loan Expert to help you move forward with getting a mortgage started.

When you ask to be connected with a Home Loan Expert, the skill will gather some contact information. We’ll be in touch with you soon.

Make Payments on Multiple Homes

If you’re already a Quicken Loans client, you can use the Rocket Mortgage skill to make a payment. Simply have your Echo open Rocket Mortgage and say, “Make a payment.” You’ll then be given the opportunity to link your existing Rocket Account within the Alexa app on your Android or iOS device.2

You sign in with your existing Rocket Account username and password. After that, you’ll be asked to give us permission to draft the payments from your bank account. Finally, to avoid accident

Why are Existing Home Sales Down?

The latest Existing Home Sales Report issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that home sales have decreased for four consecutive months and are at their slowest pace in over two years. This has some industry leaders puzzled considering the fact that the economy is strengthening, unemployment is down, and wages are beginning to rise. This begs the question: “Where are the buyers?”

Actually, agents in the field of most communities are still seeing strong desire from prospective purchasers. They have a list of potential buyers ready to go if the right houses come on the market and they claim it is not a shortage of demand, but is instead a shortage of inventory that is causing the market to soften.

Why is there a shortage of inventory?

You only need to look at the graph below to understand:

Why are Existing Home Sales Down? | Keeping Current Matters

New construction sales over the last ten years are far below historic numbers from 1995-2002.

A recent industry report looked at building permits and concluded:

“If construction over the past decade matched historic norms, accounting for population change, the country would have had 2.3 million more single-family home permits.”

That decade of not building enough homes is the primary reason for the concerns about today’s market.

Wait, weren’t we talking about ‘existing’ home sales?

Some may argue that NAR’s sales report deals with existing home sales and not new construction, and they would be correct. However, reports have shown that one of the main reasons why existing homeowners are not selling is because they can’t find homes that meet the needs of their current lifestyles. Historically, the upgrades in a newly constructed home were the answers to those needs.

Over the last decade, however, there were fewer homes built to satisfy this move-up seller. Consequently, there are many homeowners who stayed in their homes for a longer tenure, instead of putting their homes up for sale.

Bottom Line

As more new homes are being built, there will be more housing inventory to satisfy current demand which will cause prices to moderate and sales volumes to increase.

We at The KCM Crew believe every family shoul

The End of Section 21 and the concept of the Overton Window

Ben Reeve LewisBen Reeve Lewis looks at the proposal to end section 21 from a different viewpoint.

Landlords under attack

For the past three years, small private landlords have been under attack by the government.

Tax breaks were the first sign, then we had the Deregulation Act 2015 making it difficult for an amateur landlord to set up an AST without a law degree and now the proposed abolition of s21 – though, don’t hold your breath on that one.

Then you have Heather Wheeler talking about how the PRS is an important component of the housing landscape, whilst systematically attacking it.

I use the term “Systematically” as a lazy convenience to be honest. I think there is little that is systematic going on in a government consumed by Brexit alone. Everything else being a side-show as we slide over Niagara Falls in a rubber ring to a cheering crowd.

Part of a broader picture

But the now mooted abolition of s21 didn’t come out of nowhere. It is part of a much broader picture coming into focus.

  • The activities of Extinction Rebellion,
  • Widespread reports that 1% of the British population owns 50% of the land
  • The yellow vest movement in France protesting at Macron’s announcement that money will be available to rebuild Notre Dame when a week before they were being told there was no money in the coffers

The kinds of disgruntled news stories that were once the preserve of a range of activist’s meetings is suddenly on the 6 ‘o’ clock news as mainstream concepts that are talked about down the pub.

Austerity and its ugly sister inequality is now a hot topic and small PRS landlords are caught up in the trending furore.

It doesn’t matter that many small landlords don’t make as much as people think they do, its about the perception of power. This is what is driving the new attacks on s21. Landlords and private renting are merely being sucked into the milieu of broader international arguments about fairness and oppression.

The Overton Window Concept

A colleague recently introduced me to the concept of the ‘Overton window’, a social science model of how public focus and discussion can move once radical and unthinkable ideas from way outside of the frame of discourse, to closer inside the frame and become matters of concern to the populace, ending up as acceptable and often government policy.

Even 6 months ago talk of the abolition of s21 was well outside of the Overton Window frame.  Then Labour espoused it and as a result, it had to move closer into the frame, even if only to be covered on Breakfast News, where politicians and landlord groups were forced to discuss their opposition in public.

Next thing you know, it moves from tapping lightly on the glass, a subject only of interest to people involved with it, to becoming a loudly announced, shattering slam dunk.

What took everybody by surprise was the speed at which the Overton Window swung its focus.  It’s my view that this reason sits outside of day to day landlord and tenant issues but is part of people’s wider geopolitical concerns at this point in time/  Of which Brexit, the Yellow vests, a resurgent far right and Trump are prime examp

Zillow Signs New Canadian Listings Agreement with EXIT Realty Corp. International

EXIT Realty Corp. International expands existing marketing agreements with Zillow to include Canadian property listings

SEATTLE, Sept. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Zillow®, the leading real estate and rental marketplace in the U.S., announced today that EXIT Realty Corp. International will expand its existing marketing agreement with Zillow to include listings from its Canadian franchises.

Thousands of Canadian listings from EXIT Realty Corp. International and other participating Canadian brokerages will be featured on, driving unprecedented global exposure to Canadian homes for sale to the millions of home shoppers that visit every month.

Every listing from EXIT Realty Corp. International on Zillow will include a description of the property, photos, the listing agent's contact information, and a link to the brokerage website so home buyers can easily find more information about the home or connect with a local real estate agent for next steps.   

"Zillow has relationships with thousands of brokerages and real estate agents in the U.S. who have used Zillow to grow their business and connect with the millions of home buyers and sellers who use our sites every day," says Errol Samuelson, Zillow Chief Industry Development Officer. "It has always been our goal to be the best partner to the industry possible, and we're thrilled that our current partners can now offer the benefits of Zillow to their Canadian franchises."

"EXIT Realty has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Zillow in the U.S. and we are pleased to be among the first companies in Canada whose listings will appear on Zillow," said Tami Bonnell, CEO, EXIT Realty Corp. International.

Zillow offers an unparalleled home search experience that consumers love, as nearly four out of every five homes in the U.S. have been viewed on Zillowi. Canadian listings will be featured on soon, offering buyers a more robust home search experience and Canadian real estate professionals massive exposure for their brand and their listings.    


Zillow® is the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with great real estate professionals. Zillow serves the full lifecycle of owning and living in a home: buying, selling, renting, financing, remodeling and more. Zillow Offers provides homeowners in some metropolitan areas with the opportunity to receive offers to purchase their home from Zillow. When Zillow buys a home, it will make necessary updates and list the home for resale on the open market.

In addition to, Zillow operates the most popular suite of mobile real estate apps, with more than two dozen apps across all major platforms. Launched in 2006, Zillow is owned and operated by Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:Z and ZG) and headquartered in Seattle.

Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc. Zillow Offers is a trademark of Zillow, Inc.

i Zillow Internal, April 2018



Buyer’s Tips To Obtain Property Below Market Value

So, you have your eye on the perfect home for you and your family or maybe, you have found the perfect building to put your new business or store in. Now you’re wondering what the next step in the buying process is. Below are tips to help you in the buying process.

You should never accept a mortgage offer without having a second offer to compare it to! Comparison shopping is just as effective with home loans as with any other consumer product. Considering the major effect a mortgage is going to have on your financial situation, it’s vital to shop around and ensure you get the most favorable mortgage terms.

In order to buy a new home wisely, you should carefully inspect the property you wish to purchase. If you notice any problems, make note of them and discuss them with the seller. The more things you can get them to fix prior to the sale, the better. This will add value to the home and save you from costly repairs down the road.

To make money in real estate, location has always been the buzzword. But, you can make money now based on the replacement cost; many properties are selling for less the cost to build it new. You can buy property now by looking at the long term cost of carrying it.

Even if you think you know more about real estate than most people, real estate agents are valuable assets worth paying for when looking to buy or sell a home. They know their area well and can often spot someone charging too much or too little for a home before anyone else can.

When planning to buy a home, start saving the amount that you would be paying for your mortgage, less your current rent. This will allow you to become more comfortable with a higher monthly housing payment and get you money toward your down payment, at the same time. Once you save at least ten percent of the cost of the house, you are ready to buy.

Always sign a contract to buy a home “subject to satisfactory inspection”. No matter how beautiful a home is, there could be hidden problems that a good inspector can uncover quickly, such as a bad roof or untrustworthy wiring. If the inspector does discover any major issues, the contract can be ammended so that the seller either has the repairs made before the sale closes or the sales price is lowered to reflect the defects.

When you are considering buying a home, meet with a mortgage broker before you begin to look at homes. This way, you don’t become enamored with an expensive home that you can’t afford. Conversely, you might be limiting yourself to lower-priced homes when low interest rates mean you can afford to borrow more.

The tips above are meant to help you or your business, purchase real estate, whether it’s your first purchase or your fiftieth. These tips will help you with the process of choosing and purchasing the perfect real estate for your needs and at the right cost. Don’t be overwhelmed by the process, just apply the above hints and you’ll be on your way to making a purchase that is right for you!

Buying Real Estate


Recent home sales west of Boston (Sept. 12)


2 Stoneymeade Way One-family Cape Cod, built in 1992, 3,627 square feet, 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, on 39,782-square-foot lot. $1,093,000

5 Milbery Lane One-family Colonial, built in 2000, 4,192 square feet, 10 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, on 20,002-square-foot lot. $990,500

8 Quail Run #8 Condominium Townhouse, built in 1988, 1,816 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. $459,000

116 Waterside Clearing #116 Condominium Townhouse, built in 1972, 1,576 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. $270,000


57 Princeton Road One-family Colonial, built in 1940, 2,454 square feet, 9 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, on 6,654-square-foot lot. $1,350,000

206-208 Broadway Two-family Mlti-Unt Blg, built in 1923, 2,464 square feet, 11 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, on 5,705-square-foot lot. $1,050,000

29 Linwood St. #29 Condominium Condo/Apt, built in 1926, 2,200 square feet, 6 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. $989,000

58-60 Essex St. $955,000

33 Swan Place Two-family Mlti-Unt Blg, built in 1880, 1,569 square feet, 7 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, on 2,246-square-foot lot. $917,000

116 Brand St. One-family Tudor, built in 1937, 2,224 square feet, 9 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, on 5,000-square-foot lot. $903,000

49-A Winter St. Two-family Mlti-Unt Blg, built in 1965, 2,535 square feet, 10 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, on 8,251-square-foot lot. $868,000

49 Fisher Road One-family Cape Cod, built in 1936, 1,768 square feet, 5 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, on 6,375-square-foot lot. $829,000

1424 Massachusetts Ave. #1424 Condominium Condo/Apt, built in 1900, 1,805 square feet, 6 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. $775,000

12 Pine Ridge Road $725,000

3 Greenwood Road One-family Ranch, built in 1958, 1,418 square feet, 5 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, on 8,686-square-foot lot. $683,000

12-14 Pondview Road #1 Condominium Condo/Apt, built in 1924, 1,125 square feet, 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. $665,000

15 Buena Vista Road One-family Old Style, built in 1928, 1,192 square feet, 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, on 4,362-square-foot lot. $660,000

1055 Massachusetts Ave. #3 Condominium Condo/Apt, built in 1906, 1,045 square feet, 5 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. $529,000

88 Park Ave. #308 Condominium Condo/Apt, built in 1984, 870 square feet, 4 rooms, 1 bedroom, 1 bath. $429,000

114 Pleasant St. #402 Condominium Condo/Apt, built in 1900, 592 square feet, 3 rooms, 1 bedroom, 1 bath. $331,000

17 Arizona Ter #5 Condominium Condo/Apt, built in 1965, 572 square feet, 3 rooms, 1 bedroom, 1 bath. $195,000


17 Gray Birch Road One-family Cape Cod, built in 1950, 2,473 square feet, 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, on 26,572-square-foot lot. $450,000

72 Fruit St. One-family Colonial, built in 1968, 1,641 square feet, 7 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, on 31,363-square-foot lot. $447,000

52 Roberts Road One-family Cape Cod, built in 1955, 1,452 square feet, 6 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, on 20,473-square-foot lot. $415,000

12 Cutler Drive One-family Cape Cod, built in 1953, 1,356 square feet, 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, on 18,295-square-foot lot. $344,000

175 Leland Farm Road #175 Condominium Townhouse, built in 1981, 1,316 square feet, 5 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. $310,000

24 E Bluff Road #24 Condominium Townhouse, built in 1984, 1,171 square feet, 5 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. $260,000


8 Nem

Stylishly-updated South Loop apartments at 777 South State

 777 S State, Chicago

The newly-updated contemporary tower at 777 South State has drawn rave reviews for its newly-updated apartments, new amenities, and lake and skyline views.

Join us in the videos for a narrated walk through convertible studio and 1-bedroom models.

 777 S State, Chicago, Jim Tschetter photo

Convertible studios rent from $1,585, 1-bedrooms from $1,8902, 2-bedrooms with one bath from $2,430, and 2-bedroom, 2-baths from $2,625. Penthouse apartments rent for $4,995 and $5,225. Ask about current special offers.

Floor plans and near real-time rent and availability info are online.

The amenities suite at the pet-friendly 777 South State includes a business center, a fitness center, a sleek resident lounge, an indoor pool and a sprawling outdoor terrace. On-site parking is available. Management, maintenance and leasing staff are on-site.

Group Fox owns and manages dozens of beautifully renovated apartment buildings in prime near-lakefront neighborhoods. See video tours of scores of Group Fox apartments.


Social Media for Real Estate 101: Best Practices to Promote your Business and Listings

Today, homebuyers are looking online more than ever for listings and realtor options. Consequently, social media provides real estate agents with a platform to market themselves and connect with current and prospective buyers.

Across platforms, the 80/20 rule is key. Post 80 percent of your content about lifestyle, audience interests, and other updates; post 20 percent of your content about you and your product. This ensures that your social media is consistent, relevant and engaging.

Here are best practices across platforms to boost visibility for your business and listings:


Instagram is extremely user friendly and provides a visually-engaging platform to promote listing photography. Therefore, it is very important to post beautiful images on your account and stick to a certain aesthetic/filter for feed consistency. Posting video clips in Instagram stories is an added strategic advantage, helping prospective buyers really get a sense for the flow and space.


Facebook is a great platform to engage with current and prospective clients by posting about your neighborhood, and showing off your listings. Prospective buyers want to know that you’re knowledgeable about where you’re selling homes. Post about events in your neighborhoods and invite fans to join you in attending. Ask questions to engage with your audience and spark conversation, and share posts that illustrate how much you care about and value your clients.

Facebook is a great place to hold contests to develop client relationships, create engagement on your page, learn more about prospective clients and to promote and market yourself as a realtor. Use geo-targeted ads and promoted posts so that your posts are seen by other Facebook users in your geographic target market. Promote CSR initiatives, such as donations to Children’s Miracle Network and other relevant charities, and use testimonials and reviews to instill trust in your services. Additional tips include bringing your properties to life with video and targeting those “likely to move.”

Be sure to compliment your Facebook page with a blog – did you know the average blog can convert 2-10 percent of its visitors into leads?  Facebook is where you can share your best articles, and then the traffic from Facebook turns into leads once your readers hit your blog. Infographics also perform very well online – use them on your Facebook page to give value to your audience and share data in digestible nuggets.


Create a Twitter account, or take what you are already doing to the next level, and use the platform to strengthen relationships with your followers. Tweet about local news, new store and restaurant openings in the communities where you have listings, share polls to garner interest and future story ideas, provide tips about moving and staging, and be sure to use hashtags and @mentions. Similar to Facebook, promote contests and offers, and tweet about your listings.


Nicely-renovated Lakeview East apartments on a tree-lined block

Grace Shores, 639-655 W Grace, is a contemporary elevator building on a pretty, tree-lined block.

The building has on-site maintenance, a 24-hour fitness room, two laundry rooms, and covered and uncovered on-site parking.

Grace Shores has nice-sized studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments with hardwood flooring throughout, and good closet space, and new kitchens and baths.

Available studios start at $1,040 a month, and 1-bedrooms at $1,255. Two-bedrooms are fully-occupied. Floor plans and near real-time rent and availability info are online.

Join us in the narrated video for a brief look at Grace Shores’ apartments, amenities and immediate surroundings.

Grace Shores is a half-block from the 18-mile lakefront trail and the softball fields, tennis courts and golf course in Lincoln Park.

Whole Foods is less than a 5-minute walk away, and Walgreens is also nearby. Wrigley Field is about a 10-minute walk.

The pedestrian-friendly Halsted and Broadway strips that begin just over a block from Grace Shores host a rich and varied array of dining and drinking establishments, locally-owned shops and live theater.

There are multiple bus routes nearby along Broadway, Halsted and Lake Shore Drive, and the Red Line stop at Sheridan Rd is just over a 10-minute walk.


loanDepot Jacksonville Florida

I am excited to have Joined the Jacksonville Florida loanDepot home mortgage Team.

After joining loanDepot in Connecticut in April 2018 I look forward to working out of the Jacksonville office to provide exceptional mortgage products and service.

Contact me with any mortgage questions or free mortgage pre-approvals today 904-712-1500 or click here 

loanDepot offer a wide variety mortgage products such as:

FHA Home Mortgages

VA Loans



VA Renovation Loans 

FHA 203K Renovation Loans

Conventional Renovation Loans

$100 Down HUD Home Purchase Loans

Mortgage Refinance

About loanDepot

loanDepot, America's lender, matches borrowers through technology and high-touch customer care with the credit they need to fuel their lives. As a fast-growing national consumer lender, the loanDepot platform is disrupting finance by dissolving the lines between mortgage and nonmortgage credit.

The company has funded over $150 billion in fundings since inception, and is passionate about emerging financial technology and dynamic product delivery supported by excellent customer service to empower consumers.

Headquartered in Southern California, loanDepot employs 6,400 team members across the country including 2,000+ licensed loan officers who hold more than 10,000 licenses. The company operates 150+ local loan locations nationwide. NMLS # 174457

An emerging-growth lending technology company

At the helm of loanDepot is Chairman and CEO Anthony Hsieh, a lending industry veteran known for his integrity and innovation. Hsieh, who founded loanDepot after playing a critical role in developing, E*TRADE Mortgage, and LendingTree, attracted a talented and experienced leadership team to create an efficient, legacy-free lending platform that would re-instill confidence and trust in a highly fragmented market.

Since launching in 2010, loanDepot has funded more than $150 billion in home, personal and home equity loans. In just a few short years, loanDepot is now the nation's fifth largest retail mortgage originator, and the second largest nonbank consumer lender. Committed to leading the lending industry into the next generation of modern lending, the company continues to make significant reinvestments into its proprietary technology and marketing platform, credit and risk models, and dynamic product delivery systems to empower consumers with access to credit.

Consistent, sustainable growth

Our consistently strong balance sheet, free cash flow and revenue and market share growth demonstrate the inherent structural advantages of our scalable platform. Positioned for continued growth as a diversified nonbank financial services company, we will leverage our strength and entrepreneurial spirit to aggressively diversify our origination flow as a natural extension of who we are: a complete consumer lender that is diversified and well-capitalized to grow market share and remain sustainable in all market conditions.

In 2015, loanDepot expanded into marketplace lending to create a new category of consumer lending with mortgage at its foundation. With the launch o

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