Month: November 2017

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30 Nov

5 Tips for Navigating Reverse Mortgage Marketing Online

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Posted by: Frederic Pichette

November 26th, 2017  |  by Elizabeth Ecker  |  HECMMarketingNewsReverse Mortgage

Online platforms have taken marketing by storm, and marketing of reverse mortgage products is no exception. As baby boomers and older counterparts have flocked to the Internet for much of the content they’re consuming, lenders large and small have an opportunity to meet them there where they are reading, watching and learning.

But what to offer prospective borrowers? The message is simple: be helpful.

“You have to learn to build trust without being face to face,” says Jim Berkowitz, founder of Telluride, Colo.-based LaunchHawk Marketing, and a speaker at this year’s annual National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association conference in San Francisco. “And the way you build trust is by being helpful.”

Noting the roughly 2 billion Facebook users, 21 million of whom are age 62 and older, Berkowitz provided insight during the conference about how reverse mortgage companies can boost their online marketing presence—without spending large sums of money. Staring with a basic approach that includes a website, landing pages, e-mail outreach capability and a social media strategy, lenders and originators of any size can work to navigate the online marketing landscape.

Here are 5 tips:

Don’t mention the words “reverse mortgage.” Rather than bombarding a prospective customer with reverse mortgage language and terminology upfront, take a big-picture approach to being helpful, Berkowitz says.

“You might start out with a simple checklist,” he says. “Then have a piece of content comparing a HELOC with a reverse mortgage. And next offer a calculator to help them figure it out.”

Start digital, stay digital. “People in the digital realm like to stay in the digital realm until close to the end of the buying process,” he says.

Go local. It’s no longer necessary to spend big on keywords or appear on the front page of search results for “reverse mortgage.” Instead, Google recognizes the location where an Internet user is and delivers search results accordingly. For this reason, Berkowitz says, it’s important to be at the top of local pages. If a company has multiple offices, search engine optimization (SEO) should be considered for each city.

“It’s a lot less expensive and is easier to get on the top of a local page than it is nationwide,” he says.

Don’t give up the gold standard. Despite not getting as much attention as Facebook and other online marketing channels today, e-mail is still the gold standard, Berkowitz says. “Your e-mail list is your lifeline to money, revenue, business growth and everything else.”

Grab the attention of the prospective borrower via social media, offer something helpful, then get his or her e-mail address.

Just be you. “People want to know you,” Berkowitz says. “What do they want to know? Why you are doing this.”

Tell prospective customers about yourself in an about page, with information such as what brought you to the reverse mortgage industry, and your personal story for being in it. The story should be personal and should give people a sense of who you really are.

The online marketing world doesn’t have to be daunting, but it is an essential part of any outreach plan today.

“This is big,” Berkowitz says. “It’s not only big, but all of these things have to work holistically together. It’s not that difficult to understand what you’re trying to do—it’s trying to be helpful to those you’re wanting to do business with.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

26 Nov

Montreal’s luxury real-estate market is hot, hot, hot

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Posted by: Frederic Pichette

The market is flourishing because the city is enjoying an economic upturn and most buyers are locals looking for something unique, developers say.

Sitting in the sales office of his latest big project, Michael Broccolini just can’t stop smiling. And with good reason; he is describing how buyers responded to his new 35-storey condo development, “We opened it to public sale the second week of October, and a week later we were 80 per cent sold.”

That is a stunning sales performance. The tower, named for its municipal address, 628 St. Jacques, will have 258 units, meaning Broccolini and his team sold about 200 condos in seven days. “We knew the market was on fire, we just didn’t know what “temperature” the market was,” he says.

What makes it even more remarkable is that nothing in the building is a bargain. It is high-end, luxurious and pricey. The smallest and least expensive unit (470 square feet) sells for about $330,000 before taxes. The largest and most expensive unit is the (as yet unsold) penthouse; 4,000 square feet and costs $4.8 million before taxes.

“It is quite an achievement,” Broccolini says, smiling. “I feel really good about it.”

No kidding.

Artist’s rendition of Broccolini project on 628 St-Jacques St., which sits on prime real-estate in Old Montreal. (Photo: Broccolini)

Broccolini’s success is consistent with recent economic reviews of Montreal real estate trends, including the latest quarterly report from the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards. It reported significant increases in transactions at the higher end of the real estate scale; a jump of more than 30 per cent for properties worth more than $500,000 and 40 per cent increase for properties worth more than $700,000.

But why is the high-end category so hot right now?

There is, of course, the real estate adage “location, location, location,” and that could explain in part Broccolini’s success at 628 St. Jacques. It sits on prime real estate, on Victoria Square in Old Montreal. A five-foot model of the project promises an Art Deco-inspired tower. “We wanted it to look like it belongs in Old Montreal or old New York,” says the 28-year old entrepreneur. But that doesn’t really explain the rush to buy. Not even the rooftop sauna and pool (“tallest pool in the city”) explains it.

Artist’s rendition of the rooftop pool that will be “the tallest in the city.” (Photo: Broccolini)

Success breeds success

Broccolini says his project and other luxury projects in the city are doing well because Montreal is doing well.

“Look at unemployment at a 30-year low. Last year, Montreal created more full-time jobs than the rest of the country combined. Tourism is up, and things like more direct flights to places like China … all these things add energy to the city. In my lifetime, I don’t think there has been a better time. I don’t think Montreal has been as “hot” as it is right now.”

Artist’s rendition of view of Lachine Canal from new luxury project at 628 St-Jacques St. (Photo: Broccolini)

If you build it … they will buy

Broccolini is not the only one successfully selling high-end properties right now.

A year ago the Gazette featured a luxury development project by Groupe Quorum, in Laval Sur Le Lac. At the time, construction of Phase One had just started and the sales pitch just launched. Now, Quorum’s marketing manager, Maxime Laporte, is also wearing a broad smile.

“We are 50 per cent more progressed than we expected to be at this time. Phase One is due for occupancy in February and is 90 per cent sold. Phase 2 is being built and is 60 per cent sold and even Phase 3 has hit 50 per cent sold, so construction of that is being moved up. The sales and absorption of this luxury product have exceeded even our own forecasts.”

Laporte agrees that the health of the Montreal economy is partly responsible for the positive trend, but mostly he credits the high quality of new luxury projects for pace of sales … an ‘if you build it luxuriously, they will come’ idea.

“It has been years, since the ’80s and ’90s, since there was a big push of luxury products built. Now, those are older inventory. If you think about Westmount or along Sherbrooke St., those luxury products are in good shape, but they are the style of the last century, and luxury is the ‘gout de jour.’ You want the condo of today, with the different use of space and design. So, this is the right time to be selling the latest in luxury,” he says.

Artist’s rendition of the main dining area in a condo for the 3-33 DuCanal project in Lachine. (Photo: Urban Immersive)

Dreams can come true

Eve Drouin sells “dreams that come true.” She is the project co-ordinator of 3-33 DuCanal, which is the street address of “the last piece of developable waterfront in Lachine.” And it is the word “waterfront” that defines the project. “None of our clients were looking to buy, they were not active buyers. They are people who wandered by and came to take a look. They say: ‘I always dreamed of living on the waterfront and now I can.’ ”

Well, they can if they have a million dollars or more. The homes will vary between 1,800 square feet to about 2,400 square feet and cost between $1 million and $1.4 million before taxes. Four of the 10 units are sold or reserved.

Drone photograph of Lachine, where the 3-33 project will be built, with an artist’s rendering of what the building will look like superimposed. (Photo: Urban Immersive)

On one side of the property is the Lachine Canal; on the other, the St. Lawrence  River and a view of the Mercier Bridge. Immediately beside the property is Parc René Lévesque, while in front there are bike paths and the marina. “Everyone who comes here says I feel like I am on vacation,” Drouin says. Keeping that vacation zen means every bedroom of every house has a view of water. The houses have huge windows and 9X15 foot patio doors. “They are the canvasses of the exterior.”

Who is buying all these luxurious homes? Drouin, Broccolini and Laporte all agree: Montrealers. Stories abound about international buyers and Canadians fleeing the overheated housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto, but the developers of these luxury properties have seen very few foreign investors. The vast majority of their sales are to locals looking for something unique.

“In our case,” says Drouin, “this is mostly about downsizing. Our clients are Montreal business people or professionals. Their kids are gone and they feel ‘it is my turn.’ One of her buyers is completely opening the second floor into a master suite with a tiny kitchen and a work studio. Another wants an elevator built from the garage in the basement to the rooftop terrace. “This is luxury for them, a home designed for them. A home they will live in for a long time.”

Artist’s rendition of the exterior of the Lachine project. (Photo: Architecture Workshop)

20 Nov

Housing prices in Montreal continue to rise in October

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Posted by: Frederic Pichette

The Teranet–National Bank House Price Index reached its highest level on record.

The Teranet–National Bank House Price Index, which measures the resale price of houses, reached its highest level on record for the Montreal region in October.

The index, released on Wednesday, was up 0.36 per cent in October, compared with the month before. It was up 6.14 per cent compared with October 2016.

This is the seventh time in eight months that the index for Montreal has increased.

The index tracks the price of houses and condos that have sold more than twice and attempts to control for fluctuations in median price that might come as a result of the mixture of houses sold during a given period.

The index, which uses June 2005 as a base, reached 160.26 in October, suggesting that house prices in the Montreal region have increased 60.26 per cent since June 2005. It is the highest index level on record. 

Numbers released by the Greater Montréal Real Estate Board this month also show prices rising.

The median price of a single-family house sold on Montreal Island in October was $470,000, up 12 per cent from $420,000 in October 2016 and up 0.43 per cent from $468,000 in September.

Across the region, the median price of a single-family house in October was $320,000, up five per cent from October 2016 and up slightly from $318,000 in September.

The median condo price on Montreal Island was up nine per cent year over year in October, rising from $280,000 to $305,000. They were up 2.7 per cent from $297,000 in September.

Sales across the region were up seven per cent in October, when compared to October 2016, the GMREB said.


7 Nov

Average Montreal home prices reach record high in October

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Posted by: Frederic Pichette

With consumer confidence at a 10-year-high and a strong job market in the city, people feel it’s a good time to buy.

MONTREAL—Average Montreal island home prices hit a record high of almost $500,000 in October, rising 12.7 per cent from the prior year, the area’s real estate board said Monday.

Single family homes in the city and suburbs saw price increases of 10 per cent to nearly $630,000, condos were up 14 per cent to more than $370,000 and buildings with two to five units grew 15 per cent to $583,801.

Average prices in the city of Montreal rose at least 13 per cent in all three categories.

Still, Canada’s second-largest city and area remain a real estate bargain even as average prices were up 9.2 per cent to $386,911 from $354,163 a year ago.

That compared to $780,104 in Greater Toronto, up 2.3 per cent from the prior year and $1.04 million in Greater Vancouver, up 12.4 per cent.

Paul Cardinal of the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards attributed monthly housing gains this year to strong job creation, consumer confidence, low unemployment and foreign migration.

“Employment is on fire in Montreal,” he said in an interview.

With consumer confidence reaching a 10-year high, people are viewing it as a good time to make a major purchase like a house.