Category Archives: Marketing

How To Discover Who Is Visiting Your Real Estate IDX Website

You cannot find out individual visitors to your site, but you can use some freely available software, such as Google Analytics, to find out how many visitors come to your site, when they are most likely to browse, and their preferred content.

In traditional brick and mortar real estate, you want to know everyone who walks through your office door. You want to greet them personally, gather their contact information, and learn how you can help them. Online real estate is a bit different. Because you cannot talk to them face to face, you need to use software tools to “get to know” your website visitors.

The easiest and most widely used is Google Analytics. Launched in 2005, Google Analytics is now used on more than 50 million sites around the web. The software works by adding tracking code to your website. This code registers activity on your site and sends it to Google where it is aggregated and presented in the Google Analytics reports page.

Google Analytics and similar software can help you understand the type of content that is most popular on your site and the type of visitors it attracts. This can help you develop more targeted content and generate more leads.

To set up Google Analytics, you will need to have a Google account. Then, you will use a plugin to install the tracking code on your website. Once it starts gathering data, you will be able to view and analyze your website traffic by logging into the Google Analytics reports portal.

Step 1: Log into Google Analytics

If you don’t have a Google account already you should create one.

Step 2: Provide Website Information

On the New Account page, you should select Website.  Then, provide a name for you account and website, as well as, your website url and your time zone.

Step 3: Copy Tracking ID

Your Google Analytics account is now ready. Google will provide a tracking code. You should keep a copy of this because in the next steps you will be adding it to your website.

Step 4: Connect Your Site and Google Analytics Account

There are several plugins available to connect your website and Analytics account. Choose the one that best fits your web platform and analytics needs. Then, install it and follow the prompts to authenticate your account.

Google Analytics is now running on your site and the software will begin collecting information about your website visitors. To see the reports, you should log into your Google Analytics page. Here are some key panels in your Google Analytics reports. The best users regularly monitor these panels and make adjustments on their site to maximize lead generation.

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Audience

The audience panel shows you the number of users on your site over the last week with breakdowns for language, web browser, desktop/mobile, and new visitor/returning visitor. You can use this information to adjust your content schedule to post new content when your traffic is highest.

Demographics

The demographics panel provides breakdowns by age and gender, including the share of your website visitors each category represents over time. You can use this information to get a better sense of your typical website visitors and tailor content to them.

Location

The location panel provides the home country of your website visitors. This can be particularly useful if you are seeking to attract international buyers. The panel also session duration and the number of pages viewed per session for each country.

Pages

The pages panel allows you to call information about a page or pages with specific content. Simply type in a search term, and the panel will return page views, entrances, and bounce rate for all the pages on your site containing that term in the url.

Source: by Morgan Taylor | Active Rain

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The Fall Of Facebook Has Only Just Begun

Their platform is broken and neither human nor machine can fix it.

Even after losing roughly a third of its market cap, it still may prove one of the great shorts of all time.

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(ZeroHedge) “There’s no mental health support. The employee suicide rate is extremely high,” one of the directors of the documentary, “The Cleaners” told CBS News last May. The film is an investigative look at the life of Facebook moderators in the Philippines. Throughout his 2018 apology tour, Mark Zuckerberg regularly referenced the staff of moderators the company had hired as one of two key solutions — along with AI — to the platform’s content evils. What he failed to disclose is that the majority of that army is subcontractors employed in the developing world.

For as long as ten hours a day, viewing as many as 25,000 images or videos per day, these low-paid workers are buried in the world’s horrors — hate speech, child pornography, rape, murder, torture, beheadings, and on and on. They are not experts in the subject matter or region they police. They rely on “guidelines” provided by Facebook — “dozens of unorganized PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets with bureaucratic titles like ‘Western Balkans Hate Orgs and Figures’ and ‘Credible Violence: Implementation standards’,” as The New York Times reported last fall. The rules are not even written in the languages the moderators speak, so many rely on Google Translate. As a recent op-ed by John Naughton in The Guardian declares bluntly in its headline, “Facebook’s burnt-out moderators are proof that it is broken.”

As we noted in last week’s issue, 41 of the 53 analysts tracked by Bloomberg currently list Facebook as a buy, with “the average price target… $187, which implies upside of nearly 36%.” That optimism springs from a basic assumption: the company’s monopolistic data dominance means it can continue extracting more from advertisers even if controversy after controversy continues to sap its user growth. Given the depth and intractability of Facebook’s problems, this is at best short-sighted.

The platform’s content ecosystem is too poisoned for human or machine moderators to cleanse. Users are fleeing in droves, especially in the company’s most valuable markets. Ad buyers are already shifting dollars to competitors’ platforms. Governments are stepping up to dramatically hinder Facebook’s data-collection capabilities, with Germany just this week banning third-party data sharing. The company is under investigation by the FTC, the Justice Department, the SEC, the FBI, and several government agencies in Europe. It has been accused by the U.N. of playing a “determining role” in Myanmar’s genocide. An executive exodus is underway at the company. And we believe, sooner or later, Facebook’s board will see no option but to remove Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg.

The market is drastically underestimating the peril the company is in. In the very short term, the user backlash may simply hinder its revenue growth. In the longer-term, however, the institutionalized failure to see and respond to the platform’s downsides may render Facebook the Digital Age’s Enron — a canonized example of how greed and corruption can fell even the mightiest.

According to data recently released by Statcounter, Facebook’s global social media market share dropped from 75.5% in December 2017 to 66.3% in December 2018. The biggest drop was in the U.S., from 76% to 52%. As Cowen survey results released this week suggest, these engagement declines will continue to depress the company’s earnings. Surveying 50 senior U.S. ad buyers controlling a combined $14 billion in digital ad budgets in 2018, 18% said they were decreasing their spend on Facebook. As a result, Cowen estimates the Facebook platform will lose 3% of its market share.

No doubt Facebook’s struggles are not just about the headline scandals. For years, one innovation priority after another has fallen flat, from VR to its video push to its laggard position in the digital-assistant race. The company’s most significant “innovation” success of the past few years was copying the innovation of a competitor — pilfering Snapchat’s ephemerality for its “moments” feature.

However, it’s the scandals that have most crippled the company’s brand and revealed the cultural rot trickling down from its senior ranks. Consider just the most-sensational revelations that emerged in 4Q18:

  • Oct. 17: The Verge reports that Facebook knew about inaccuracies in the video viewership metrics that it provided to advertisers and brands for more than a year. “The inflated video views led both advertisers and media companies to bet too much on Facebook video.”
  • Nov. 14: The New York Times publishes an investigative report that reveals Facebook hired a conservative PR firm to smear competitors and minimize the company’s role in Russia’s 2016 election meddling.
  • Dec. 5: British lawmakers release 250 pages of internal Facebook emails that show that, “the company’s executives were ruthless and unsparing in their ambition to collect more data from users, extract concessions from developers and stamp out possible competitors,” as The New York Times reported.
  • Dec. 14: Facebook reveals that a bug allowed third-party app developers to access photos people may not have shared publicly, with as many as 6.8 million users potentially affected.
  • Dec. 17: Two Senate reports reveal the shocking extent of Russia’s efforts on social media platforms during the 2016 election, including the fact thatInstagram was their biggest tool for misinformation.
  • Dec. 18: The New York Times reports that Facebook gave the world’s largest technology companies far more intrusive access to user data than previously disclosed, including the Russian search firm Yandex.
  • Dec. 20: TechCrunch reports that, “WhatsApp chat groups are being used to spread illegal child pornography, cloaked by the app’s end-to-end encryption.”
  • Dec. 27: The New York Times obtains 1,400 pages of Facebook’s moderation guidelines and discovers an indecipherable mess of confusing language, bias, and obvious errors.

Scandal after scandal, the portrait of the company is the same: Ruthlessly and blindly obsessed with growth. Overwhelmed by that growth and unwilling to take necessary steps to compensate. Willing to lie and obfuscate until the truth becomes inescapable. And all the time excusing real-world consequences and clear violations of user and client trust because of the cultish belief that global interconnectedness is an absolute good, and therefore, Facebook is absolutely good.

The scale of Facebook’s global responsibility is staggering. As Naughton writes for The Guardian:

Facebook currently has 2.27bn monthly active users worldwide. Every 60 seconds, 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated and 136,000 photos are uploaded to the platform. Instagram, which allows users to edit and share photos as well as videos and is owned by Facebook, has more than 1bn monthly active users. WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging service that is also owned by Facebook, now has 1.5bn monthly active users, more than half of whom use it several times a day.

Relying on tens of thousands of moderators to anesthetize the digital commons is both inadequate, and based on the reported working conditions, unethical and exploitative. AI is not the solution either, as we explored in WILTW April 12, 2018. According to Wired, Facebook has claimed that 96% of the adult and nude images users try to upload are now automatically detected and taken down by AI. That sounds like a success until you consider that that error rate means 1.3 million such images made it to the public in the third quarter of 2018 alone (30.8 million were taken down).

In fact, the company has acknowledged that views with nudity or sexual content have nearly doubled in the 12 months ending in September. And detecting nudity is a far easier task for a rules-based algorithm than deciding the difference between real and fake news, between hate speech and satire, or between pornography and art.

Facebook has economically and culturally empowered hundreds of millions of people around the world. It cannot be blamed for every destabilized government, war, or murder in every region it operates. However, more and more, it’s clear that one profit-driven platform that connects all of the world’s people to all of the world’s information — the vision Zuckerberg has long had for his invention — is a terminally-flawed idea. It leads to too much power in the hands of too few. It allows bad actors to centralize their bad actions. And it is incompatible with a world that values privacy, ownership, and truth.

Governments are waking up to this problem. So is the public. And no doubt, so are competitive innovators looking to expand or introduce alternatives. Collectively, they will chip away at Facebook’s power and profitability. Given the company’s leaders still appear blinded by and irrevocably attached to their business model and ideals, we doubt they can stave off the onslaught coming.

Source: ZeroHedge

“Things Are Getting Worse”: Mall Owners Hand Over The Keys To Lenders Before They Even Default

For years, traditional malls around the United States have been in a state of partial or full collapse thanks to “the Amazon effect”: deteriorating conditions, bankrupt or cash-bleeding tenants, with some even transforming into homeless shelters as the retail industry “evolves”. 

In other words, as Bloomberg writes, “things are getting worse for malls across America.” So much worse, in fact, that their owners are simply walking away early from struggling properties, a trend that has sparked fears of material losses among mortgage bond investors.

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Investors in and lenders to malls across America are bracing for the fallout from the disappearance of the brick and mortar sub-sector of the industry. With the recent bankruptcy of retail giant Sears, mall operators are continuing to see accelerating defaults in the wake of numerous other retail bankruptcies from stores like Bon-Ton, Wet Seal and RadioShack, and many others, resulting in abrupt declines in rental and lease payments.

And amid the ongoing collapse in what was once a staple source of shopping and entertainment for “middle America”, many mall owners are simply turning over the keys to lenders even before their lease is over, according to Bloomberg. That puts the loan servicing companies in a position to either try to run the properties themselves or turn around and sell them. If they can’t make the debt payments, the new owners of the commercial mortgage backed securities in turn end up facing the consequences themselves.

While much of the noise surrounding the “big mall short” which dominated the 2017 airwaves has faded, the number of mall loans issued since the financial crisis that identified as “highest risk” has almost tripled to 29 this year. And the consequences are becoming painfully visible. The Washington Prime Group REIT last month simply gave up on two malls in Kansas where the loans had either defaulted or were close to default. This month, Pennsylvania REIT announced that it left a mall in Wilkes-Barre that also had a loan ready for default. The PA REIT is considering abandoning another mall in Wisconsin for the same reason.

Ben Easterlin, head of commercial lending at Atlanta-based Angel Oak Companies, told Bloomberg that many small town malls are no longer being included in CMBS packages. “It’s easier to value a mall in L.A. than it is in Sheboygan,” he said. “We talk about these malls all day long. We have not seen any of these malls in a CMBS lately and don’t expect to, frankly.

Meanwhile, even though the delinquency rate right in the commercial mortgage backed securities market is at post-crisis lows now, the pain will likely take a couple of years to show up due to maturities that won’t occur for several years.

Adding to the pain, stores leaving these malls often cause a waterfall effect because of co-tenancy clauses that are included in many small mall leases. These clauses mean that if there aren’t enough tenants in a mall at a given time, other tenants have the option to leave. So when a “major” anchor-store company – like Sears – closes a bunch of stores, it can triggers clauses releasing other stores from their contractual leases, further hitting the mall and its creditors.

Still, not all investors see this as Armageddon.

The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills was seen as an investment opportunity by New York-based Namdar Realty Group and Mason Asset Management, who bought the property for $11.35 million earlier this year after it was once valued at $190 million in 2006, before it was packaged into a commercial mortgage backed securities pool.

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Steve Plenge, managing principal of Pacific Retail, is another optimist who sees today’s climate as opportunistic. His firm has taken over at least two malls that have been returned to lenders after defaults. He told Bloomberg: “we think this sector, the servicing business, will get bigger for us. There will be more defaults, more foreclosures.”

We agree. In fact, at the beginning of October we noted that mall vacancies had hit 7 year highs. And, according to a WSJ report, the average rent for malls in the third-quarter fell 0.3% to $43.25 a square foot. This is down from $43.36 in the second quarter and is the first time this number has fallen sequentially since 2011, according to research firm Reis, Inc.

At the same time, vacancy rates are on the ascent, rising to 9.1% in the third quarter from 8.6% in the second quarter, and the highest they’ve been since the third quarter of 2011, when these rates hit 9.4%. 

Barbara Denham, senior economist with Reis, told the Journal: “The retail sector is still correcting”. And, as long as ever more people continue to migrate to online retailers (or buying less stuff in general), it will be for years.

Source: ZeroHedge

New York Judge Rules Consumer Financial Protection Bureau An Unconstitutional Construct…

The CFPB was constructed by Elizabeth Warren and her progressive ideologues as an extra-constitutional government agency.  This was entirely by design.

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The CFPB had two primary, albeit unspoken, functions.  First, it was structured as a holding center for fines and assessments against any financial organizations opposed by progressives.  Second, it was a distribution hub for the received funds to be transferred to political allies and groups supportive of progressive causes.

To pull off this scheme Elizabeth Warren et al ensured it was structured to allow no congressional oversight; however, it was also structured to have no executive branch oversight – and the funding mechanism for the CFPB budget was directly through the federal reserve.  The lack of any legislative or executive branch oversight made the entire scheme unconstitutional according to an earlier court decision.

The CFPB defenders then appealed the decision to a select appellate court in Washington DC to continue the construct.  The Warren crew won the appeal; but today, in an unrelated jurisdictional ruling a New York judge affirmed the minority opinion setting up a possible supreme court pathway to get a final decision.

NEW YORK (AP) – The U.S. government’s beleaguered consumer finance watchdog agency is unconstitutionally structured, a judge said Thursday as she disqualified the agency from serving as a plaintiff in a lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in Manhattan reached the conclusion about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a written decision.

Her ruling related to a lawsuit brought against companies loaning money to former National Football League players awaiting payouts from the settlement of a concussion-related lawsuit and to individuals slated to receive money for injuries sustained when they helped in the World Trade Center site cleanup after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

She let claims brought by the New York State attorney general proceed, but dismissed those that were brought by the CPFB, saying it “lacks authority to bring this enforcement action because its composition violates the Constitution’s separation of powers.”

In ruling, Preska sided with three judges who dissented from the six-judge majority in a January ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. The majority found that the agency director’s power is not excessive and that the president should not have freer rein to fire that person.  (read more)

CFPB Interim Director Mick Mulvaney has already said the CFPB needs to be disassembled.

Taking the agency down is perfectly ok with the Trump administration.

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CFPB Ruled Unconstitutional Again – National Real Estate Post

By Sundance | The Conservative Tree House

It’s Over For Tech Start-ups

It’s over for tech start-ups — just look at today’s earnings reports

  • Blue Apron and Snap had disappointing earnings reports on Thursday.
  • Both companies have been targeted by one of the Big Five — Blue Apron by Amazon, Snap by Facebook.
  • Start-ups and investors should look to the margins, or prepare to face the tech giants.

Two newly public tech companies reported earnings on Thursday, and both were ugly for their investors.

Meal-kit preparer Blue Apron missed earnings expectations by a wide margin in its first earnings report since going public in late June. It reported a 47 cent per share loss instead of the expected 30 cent loss, blaming high customer acquisition costs and staffing a new distribution plant in New Jersey.

The stock dropped 17 percent and is now trading at about half its IPO price.

In its second earnings report as a public company, Snap disappointed Wall Street with its user growth numbers for the second consecutive time and fell short on earnings.

The stock dropped about 17 percent after hours. It’s now off about 33 percent from its IPO price.

Blue Apron and Snap have a lot in common. They’re consumer focused. They have devoted followers. They’re losing money hand over fist.

And both were targeted directly and aggressively by two of tech’s biggest companies.

Between the time Blue Apron filed for its intial public offering, on June 1, and when it went public, on June 28, Amazon announced that it was buying Whole Foods. The speculation that Amazon would use the purchase to improve its home delivery service sent demand for Blue Apron’s IPO down, and the company slashed its IPO range from $15-$17 down to $10-$11.

Then, reports emerged that Amazon had already launched a meal kit, which was on sale in Seattle.

In the case of Snap, it was Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and company had been fighting to blunt Snap’s growth ever since its co-founder, Evan Spiegel, rejected his buyout offer in 2013. It began to see progress with the launch of Instagram Stories in August 2016, which duplicated Snapchat’s own Stories feature. Over the next year, it gradually copied nearly every major Snapchat feature in its own products.

Less than a year after launch, Instagram Stories has 250 million daily users and is growing at a rate of around 50 million every three months. Snap has 173 million and grew only 7 million during the quarter.

The experiences of these companies are discouraging for start-up investors and founders who dream of someday creating an Amazon or Facebook of their own.

The five big tech companies — Alphabet (Google), Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft — have attained unprecedented wealth and power, with trillions of dollars in combined market value and tens of billions of dollars in free cash flow.

They also need to satisfy Wall Street’s appetite for growth, which means they have to get new customers or earn more money from existing customers, quarter after quarter, year after year. One way to do that is to expand into new markets.

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They’ll gladly outspend their smaller competitors on product development and hiring while undercutting them on price.

That doesn’t mean curtains for Blue Apron or Snap. Both companies could come up with a leapfrog innovation that catapults them (for a while). Young nimble companies overtake older and slower companies all the time — that’s how the Big Five started. Microsoft disrupted IBM. Google and Apple disrupted Microsoft. And so on.

But companies and tech investors need to be wise about the risks of betting on upstarts that are going up against these giants.

If you hope to make money through online advertising, you’ll be challenging Google and Facebook. If you’re doing anything in e-commerce, logistics or delivery, you’ll run into Amazon. In cloud computing, get ready to see Amazon, Microsoft and Google. If you’re building hardware, Apple likely stands in the way.

It might be better to focus on the niches that the Big Five don’t yet dominate. Their health-care efforts are still in early stages, and none is playing heavily in financial tech, drones or robotics. Microsoft’s power in enterprise software is blunted to some degree by other old giants like IBM, Oracle and SAP, plus newer players like Salesforce.

It’s always been hard to build a successful start-up. With the increasing dominance of the Big Five, it’s harder than ever.

By Matt Rosoff | CNBC

 

Can Short Term Rental Income Hurt Your Mortgage Refinance Application?

One of the most significant financial trends to sweep the country is more of a hit with homeowners than refinance mortgage lenders.

Logically, it sure seems as though a loan application which shows extra income through short-term room rentals would be a winner, something that would greatly please mortgage lenders.

The catch is that it’s not a sure thing, and in some cases, room rentals could actually be a negative.

New Trend Creates Uncertainty

Across the country, a number of electronic platforms now allow those with extra space to provide short-term housing.

National services such as Airbnb, Flipkey, HomeAway and VRBO are at the heart of this new business, one which takes an idle asset – that unused mother-in-law suite or extra bedroom – and puts it to use.

The result is that many homeowners are now getting cash for their quarters, money that can help with monthly bills and even mortgage payments.

At first, short-term home rentals seem like a win-win business proposition: the homeowner earns income while the traveler gets space for a few days, space that might be a lot cheaper than standard-issue hotel rooms.

The catch is that although the cash earned from short-term rentals is real, it may not automatically count on a mortgage application.

Home Rentals And Your Refinance Mortgage

For a very long time, there has been a business which offers short-term rentals — the hotel industry. Like most industries, it has not been shy about seeking legal protections for its products and services.

Check the local rules for virtually all jurisdictions, and you will find laws on the books which prohibit unlicensed short-term rentals or leases of fewer than 30 days.

These laws are largely unenforced, but that is changing. According to the New York Post, on October 21, 2016, New York Governor Cuomo signed a bill that would impose fines of up to $7,500 against hosts who posted short-term rentals. A California couple who had already paid $2,081 for their room found themselves with nowhere to stay when another resident reported their host to the authorities.

Rental Income: Is It Reported?

For lenders, the new surge in short-term rentals raises a number of issues. The money is nice, and congratulations on that, but whether such funds can be counted in a refinance home loan application is uncertain. Here’s why:

First, the lender will want to see that the rental income has been reported on tax returns. If income is not reported, it doesn’t usually count.

Note that if you report short-term rental income, it may not be taxable, depending on how many nights the property was rented. See a tax professional for details.

Is It Legal?

Second, if the income is reported, was it legally obtained? Here we get back to those sticky local rules that ban short-term rentals.

Lenders like to see income that’s ongoing, because mortgages tend to be lengthy obligations lasting 15 or 30 years.

If cash is coming from unlicensed room rentals, there is the possibility that the money might be cut off at any moment by an irate neighbor who reports the matter to local authorities.

Is It Your Primary Residence?

Third, is the property a residence? Mortgage lenders generally are in the business of financing homes with one-to-four units, and the best refinance rates go to those being used as primary residences.

New York state found that six percent of the units it studied captured almost 40 percent of the private short-term rental income.

In other words, some properties did a lot of short term rentals, a volume which will make lenders wonder whether the property is a comfy residence or an unlicensed hotel.

It’s not just lenders who will have such questions. The property will have to be appraised and that’s where problems are likely to arise.

Home, Sweet Boarding House?

Francois (Frank) K. Gregoire, an appraiser based in St. Petersburg and a nationally-recognized valuation authority, notes that “a room rental situation, depending on the number of rooms, may shift the use of the property from single or multifamily to a business use, such as a hotel or rooming house.

“If there are more than four units, the property is outside the one to four units certified residential appraisers are permitted to appraise, and outside the one to four unit limitation for loan purchase by Fannie and Freddie.”

The Future Of Short-Term Rentals

While the current situation is muddled and puzzled, there’s a very great likelihood that short-term home rentals will be increasingly legitimatized.

In the same way that Uber has disrupted the traditional cab industry, the odds are that the same thing will happen with short-term rentals. The reason is that the private rental rules now on the books were passed when no one cared and are largely unenforced.

Now, the landscape has changed. A very large number of homeowners want to be in the short-term rental business, or are at least disinclined to report their neighbors.

The police surely don’t want to break into homes in search of paying guests, and state and local lawmakers really want homeowner votes.

Be Careful Out There

For the moment, homeowners with an interest in earning a few extra dollars from short-term home rentals should get advice and counsel from a local real estate attorney before signing up guests.

In addition, speak with your insurance broker to assure that you have adequate coverage. Some policies allow short-term rentals, some do not, and there are differing definitions regarding what is or is not an allowable short-term rental.

By Peter Miller | The Mortgage Reports

USA Today Reports Existing Home Sales Hit 9-Year High In June

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Bolstered by first-time home buyers, existing-home sales rose for the fourth straight month in June, reaching a nine-year high.

Sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops increased 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million, up from May’s downwardly revised 5.51 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. The June pace was the strongest since 2007.

First-time buyers made up 33% of those transactions, the biggest share in four years. That eased concerns that a shortage of affordable houses has been pushing entry-level buyers out of the market.

The median existing-home price also reached a new high as it surged 4.8% to $247,700 from a year ago, above the former peak of $238,900 in May.

June’s sales exceeded the highest forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg, 5.56 million.

Healthy job gains, record-high stock prices and near-record low mortgage rates stoked June’s positive showings, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.

“The modest bump in June sales to first-time buyers can be attributed to mortgage rates near all-time lows and perhaps a hopeful indication that more affordable, lower-priced homes are beginning to make their way onto the market,” he said. “The odds of closing on a home are definitely higher right now for first-time buyers living in metro areas with tamer price growth and greater entry-level supply — particularly areas in the Midwest and parts of the South.”

The Midwest has the lowest median existing-home price among all regions, $199,900, followed by the South, at $217,400. The median price in the West climbed 7.2% from a year ago to $350,800.

Total available existing homes for sale dipped 0.9% to 2.12 million, now 5.8% below a year ago.

“Seasonally adjusted, the month’s supply of homes in June 2016 was the lowest since June 2005, indicating that inventory problems still plague home buyers,” said Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s chief economist.

by Athena Cao | USA Today