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Practical advice for real estate agents

How to Dress as a Realtor

How to dress as a  realtor

The real estate business is not only competitive for buyers and sellers, but also for real estate agents. Your business thrives on constantly bringing in new clients to fulfill their home dreams. Yet

The real estate business is not only competitive for buyers and sellers, but also for real estate agents. Your business thrives on constantly bringing in new clients to fulfill their home dreams. Yet what you wear can have a significant impact on whether the client wants to work with you or if they move on to the next firm. One of the interesting things about the real estate business is that many agents believe anything goes when it comes to dress attire because this is their chosen career. Since they may work for themselves instead of with a brokerage that has a dress code, they believe that their dress decisions should only matter to them. This factor may often lead to them wearing things that may turn off buyers or sellers, such as see-through clothing, over-gaudy jewelry, or even tacky shorts. However, your dress attire will be the first impression that buyers and sellers get about how knowledgeable and professional you will be with your services. Clients know that they could be working with you for several months. They do not want to have the impression that you do not want to take the job seriously, or that you may be so new to the real estate industry that you won't quite know how to handle negotiations or closings. Find out what the appropriate dress is that you may want to stick to when working as a real estate agent. One Size Does Not Fit All The good thing is that you do not have to stick to the strict cookie-cutter business suits and dresses, unless that is what you desire. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to what to wear in this profession because buying and selling buildings are not restricted to corporate developers or big city Realtors. No client would expect their real estate agent to show up to the beach wearing a three-piece suit or selling a ranch while wearing oxfords as you step around the livestock Think About the Region Certain regions have a particular type of clothing trend that is popular to that area. Straying from this trend can often make real estate agents stick out in a negative fashion, as if they are someone new who is just muscling into the real estate game in that location. For metropolitan areas, a more formal business attire would be expected when working with clients interested in hi-rise apartments or commercial spaces. In more rural towns where everyone basically knows just about every neighbor by their first name, a more casual attire would be expected. Think About Your Clientele Based on the types of real estate that you work with, you may have clients of a specific demographic, such as families, retirees, empty nesters, and young couples. Some demographics may be a bit more lenient when it comes to the attire you pick. Others, such as older clients, can expect a more formal business attire. For families, they may look toward semi-formal to business casual. Consider the clientele so you can make the best first impression possible while developing a loyal customer base. Clothing to Avoid While you should dress in such a way as how you want to portray yourself as a real estate agent, there are usually a few pieces of clothing that should strictly only be worn during personal hours. Some clothing not to wear as a real estate agent includes: • see-through clothing • ripped jeans • workout clothes • graphic t-shirts • short shirts that show the midriff • tube tops • shorts • tight-fitting clothing • miniskirts • hats It can be left to debate on whether some of these items can be worn for real estate work, such as wearing a graphic t-shirt with the name of the real estate firm on it. While this may be acceptable in certain circumstances, always remember that you do not want to cause any friction with a client who may not want to see certain graphics. For example, you may want to show team spirit by wearing a t-shirt of your favorite sports team. But if the client roots for an opposing team, this can sometimes create bad vibes at the first meeting. Dress to Impress You cannot go wrong with dressing to impress your clients. If you are working at a firm, ask the managers and coworkers about the best attire to wear when meeting clients inside and outside the office. Then consider the location, regional dress trends, customer demographic and your personal branding as factors when choosing the appropriate attire. You are sure to come up with your go-to real estate clothes that will help you find the perfect clients and professionally close deals while you become the top real estate agent in the country. Love, Kartik subramaniam
Practical advice for real estate agents

A Guide to Your First 30 Days as a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agent planning first month on a calendar

So you finished real estate classes, you’ve chosen a broker to work with, you’re sitting at your desk and thinking: Now what? to buy a home right now. Sure, they know that they want to and that

So you finished real estate classes, you’ve chosen a broker to work with, you’re sitting at your desk and thinking: Now what? to buy a home right now. Sure, they know that they want to and that special day may very well be on the horizon. But they could also be waiting for a job transfer to come through, or for more savings to hit their account. They could even be trying to improve their credit - a process that certainly isn't going to happen overnight. For most of the students that go through our real estate school, the potential for unlimited income played a large role in the decision to get licensed. Truly, there is no limit to how much you can earn thanks to the commission-based structure that the real estate industry provides. This, coupled with the fact that real estate agents can set their own schedules and the added satisfaction that comes with helping people achieve their dreams of homeownership, creates something of a perfect storm in the best possible way. But at the same time, the chasm between becoming a Realtor and becoming a successful Realtor is a deep one, indeed. Rising to the status of the latter is something that takes an incredible amount of hard work and perseverance - often more than people are expecting when they begin their first day on the job in real estate. In fact, the first 30 days as a real estate agent are critical for setting the tone for everything that transpires afterwards. Because of that, making sure that your career launches properly is mission critical to your long-term success in our business. TL/DR - What you should expect in your first 30 days: 1. Join the Association of Realtors 2. Get MLS access 3. Get your eKey 4. Tell your friends and family that you’re in the business 5. Update all your social media 6. Preview at least 5 properties a day for at least the first 30 days Getting the logistical stuff squared away Standing up the logistical tools needed to get your real estate career started might seem obvious but they are worth mentioning. Simple items like ordering your business cards, getting your Board dues paid, making sure you have MLS access and Zipforms should be done in the first week at most. Some companies may hold your hand through this process of onboarding but many real estate companies have so many new hires that these items could slip through the cracks. Take things into your own hands if needed and get them done quickly. You also will want to write a professional bio, get your headshot done, as well as update all your social media profiles. Registering and creating profiles on sites like Zillow, Yelp, LinkedIn and Facebook won’t take long but they need to be done. If someone should Google your name, you want the first thing to come up to be a professional bio (complete with that previously mentioned headshot) to instantly give off the impression that you mean business and have social proof that you’re in the game. I’d also recommend gathering the names, addresses, emails and other bits of contact information of everyone you know - this will act as the new sphere of influence that you will slowly build from over time. Once that database is complete, you'll want to create a short letter or email to send out to every last name on it. The goal is simple: you want to let as many people know that you're now in the real estate profession and it isn’t just a hobby. Unless you hit this list, you’ll never know whether they're looking for a house right now or whether they're considering selling at some point in the future. The worst feeling is seeing one of your friends post on social media that they are selling or buying and would have done the deal with you had they known you were an agent. This is also the period when you'll want to make an effort to truly understand your market. There are a lot of real estate agents who know how to help someone buy or sell a home. The key to your competitive advantage will be your ability to do so better than anyone else and become the local real estate expert in your community - which is why you need to do research, and lots of it. Venture out into the area and show yourself around a few homes on the market. Test out that eKey, get comfortable with the process. Drive by homes that are for sale in your MLS. Not only will this help you get more familiar with the area you'll be operating in, but it'll also help you get more comfortable with the very process itself. Speaking of the MLS, use the first 30 days as an opportunity to run real estate market reports to make sure you're aware of all current market conditions. At any given moment you should know how fast homes are selling, the average prices they're going for, the list-to-sales price ratios and more. You could also consider offering free home valuation reports to all of your friends, to both get comfortable with the process and to show as many people as possible how serious you are about your new career. Networking and Beyond Your first month as a Realtor will also be one where networking with other agents is critically important. Plan on attending every open house that you can and preview plenty of properties listed by other agents. Ask to shadow a seasoned veteran for a day. It doesn't matter - connect with as many people as possible, because you never know who will be able to help. You should also draft a business plan to set some straightforward goals (not to mention a budget) for your first 90 days and beyond. Make an effort to set realistic goals for each week over the next few months, both to make sure that you're always moving in the right direction and so that you avoid feeling too overwhelmed. Finally, you need to understand that even beyond your first 30 days, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow as a real estate professional. Take classes with your local Association of Realtors. Determine and understand what your unique selling proposition is and be able to communicate why someone should care about it. Attend any new agent orientations you can find. Review as many real estate contracts as you can get your hands on and write some of your own. I remember when I was just starting in the industry, I would draft purchase contracts on random houses at night just so that I could learn the contract. If you're able to find time for all of the above, you'll have done more than just make excellent use of your first 30 days. You'll have created a rock-solid foundation that the rest of your career will be built upon. Good luck! Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

How You Can Help Prepare Long Term Buyers for Their Home Purchase

Potential home buyer putting down clock

As a real estate agent, one of the most important things for you to prepare yourself for is the inevitability of coming across a client who isn't quite ready to buy a home right now. Sure, they

As a real estate agent, one of the most important things for you to prepare yourself for is the inevitability of coming across a client who isn't quite ready to buy a home right now. Sure, they know that they want to and that special day may very well be on the horizon. But they could also be waiting for a job transfer to come through, or for more savings to hit their account. They could even be trying to improve their credit - a process that certainly isn't going to happen overnight. Regardless, that doesn't mean that you don't still have an important role to play in their lives. If you really want to prepare your long term buyers for their next big home purchase, there are a number of things you'll want to keep in mind. 1. Advise Them to Postpone Large Purchases By far, one of the most important things you should advise your long term buyers on is the fact that they should hold off on making any large purchases for the foreseeable future. This means that if you hear that they're thinking of running out and buying a car, or are financing large amounts of furniture (they are getting excited about the prospect of moving into a brand new home, after all), you'll definitely want to get them to think again. Large purchases can absolutely impact someone's credit, and not necessarily in the way that they need right now. There are few things more important than buying a new home, so make sure that this is where their priorities are for the time being. 2. Encourage Them to Pay Their Bills On-Time Likewise, you'll want to make sure that they know they need to continue to pay all of their bills on-time. Again, missed payments can absolutely have a negative impact on their credit and most people would be surprised just how easy it is for issues like this to delay the home purchasing process - or in some cases, make it outright impossible. In the event that they do feel like they're about to miss a payment, encourage them to reach out to their creditors to see if something can be worked out. This isn't necessarily always going to be possible, and someone's ability to do this will be impacted by their previous relationship with that creditor. But they should at the very least try something to avoid this type of black mark on their credit. 3. Have Them Hold Off on Making Large Bank Withdrawals Along the same lines, they also need to be aware that they should not make any large withdrawals at all - or even make any large, unsourced deposits to their bank accounts. During the home purchasing process, mortgage lenders will go over nearly every nook and cranny of someone's financial history with a fine-toothed comb. If they see anything that is suspect - or anything that gives credence to the idea that they may not be as responsible as they should be, they can absolutely use that as justification to deny a mortgage application. This could take them out of the running for that home of their dreams before they even realize it, so make sure that they're crystal clear on the subject. 4. Avoid Applying for New Credit Finally, you need to make sure that they are aware that they should not apply for any new credit at all. This means not only resisting the urge to sign up for new credit cards, but also avoiding financing any large purchases. Also be sure to ask if they're on any recurring payment plan with their phone carrier, with the iPhone Upgrade Program being one prominent example. These programs allow people to automatically upgrade to a new smartphone every year, which is great - but the iPhone Upgrade Program in particular may do a "soft pull" of someone's credit every time that upgrade happens. This, too, could cause a negative impact on theircredit at the worst possible moment so these are the types of things that should be avoided at all costs. Remember to Stay in Touch With Your Long-Term Buyers All told, as an agent you should continue to stay in touch with the buyer on a regular basis. At a bare minimum, be sure to put them on an MLS drip system where properties that come onto the market that match their needs get automatically sent to them. This will be a great way to keep them informed, stay at the top of their mind and make sure that when the day does come for them to make that home purchase, yours is the first number they call. In the end, just keep in mind that not every buyer is going to be ready to jump at the next available property the moment you contact them. You'll have a lot of potential clients who fall into that category, but you're also going to have a large number that aren't quite ready either. More than anything, the ability to follow up and stay in communication with them is going to not only make your life easier, but it will also go a long way towards helping you convert more of your long term buyers in the future. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

What Kind of Car Should a New Realtor Drive?

Real estate agent getting in her car

As a new real estate agent, making the right first impression is critical . Details matter. That includes the way you look, your approach, and your personality. It also relates back to the type of

As a new real estate agent, making the right first impression is critical . Details matter. That includes the way you look, your approach, and your personality. It also relates back to the type of image you portray with your vehicle. Why Your Vehicle Matters First impressions matter to home buyers and sellers. They want to know that the person they are working with is successful, even if they are brand new. Having a car that is both functional and impressive enough is a key part of the process. Since most real estate agents will help buyers see a variety of homes often by driving them around, this can be an important decision to make. To be clear, packing everyone into the same car while COVID rages probably isn’t the wisest decision, however, COVID will be behind us and it will be back to business as usual. Most agents aim to find some balance between their image and the relatability of the vehicle. That is, while you want to have a nice and comfortable vehicle, you do not want something that’s too flashy that could scare away some of your most likely buyers. How do you do that? What Every Real Estate Agent’s Car Should Have One of the first things to start with is the basics. There are some features that are critical that every vehicle has. These make a difference in the type of experience the buyer and seller may have. Some key starting points include the following: Air Conditioning: Comfort matters. You want to be sure that anyone that is in your vehicle is comfortable. A nice feature to have is adjustable cooling for the backseat. That helps your buyers to be able to control their heating and cooling to find the right temperature of comfort. It helps keep them happy on a hot day. Radio: It’s a good idea to have a reliable radio. You may not need surround sound and top-of-the-line speakers, though. It is a good idea to have some music playing in the background when you pick up your buyers. When it is silent in the car, people feel uncomfortable. A big part of what you are doing now is keeping everyone enjoying the experience. You may even want to create a playlist for your car that is upbeat, positive music. 4 Doors: There’s no situation in which your buyers want to try to climb out of the backseat of a car. More so, it should be a roomy enough backseat that they are able to sit comfortably even if they are a bit taller or need more room. Be sure to choose a four-door vehicle that’s designed to accommodate your needs outside of work, too. Clean: Perhaps the most important part of your vehicle is how clean it is. People who are stepping into your vehicle expect it to be comfortable and sanitary. This is very important, especially in a pandemic world. If you are buying a car then, be sure to look for features that make it easy to keep clean. That may include leather or leather-like material. If you can choose a vehicle that has easy-to-remove or clean carpeting, that can help as well. Keep it litter free as well. What Kind of Car Should I Drive? New real estate agents are often overwhelmed by this decision. It does not have to be a complex process, though. You want to provide a positive experience for your buyers. They do not expect a top of the line vehicle, but they want something reliable. There is no benefit to you, especially as you are just starting, to have a too expensive car. If it has features that make a difference to you, such as a navigation system, that’s great. If not, you still have your smartphone you can use to help with getting around. What’s most important is not to overspend at the beginning of your career and to choose a car that fits into your budget as a new real estate agent . Over time, you can upgrade as you see fit. Choose a car that is not going to break the bank. It’s okay to buy a car that fits your personal needs, too, especially since most agents will use their car for this as well. Take the time to find a car that fits your personality and your client’s most likely needs. Then, be sure to take care of it to keep it looking sharp. Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

7 Home Interior Design Trends for 2021: What’s Going Away and What’s Making a Splash

Black home kitchen design

As we move deeper into 2021, home design trends are predicted to be rather bold and personalized. This makes sense after the nation has been spending so much time at home. More and more people are

As we move deeper into 2021, home design trends are predicted to be rather bold and personalized. This makes sense after the nation has been spending so much time at home. More and more people are becoming attuned to their daily surroundings, noticing the nuances that add character and taking joy in some of the simpler pleasures. We'll look at what's on its way out and what everyone is making room for. Interior Design Trends Going Away in 2021 Modern farmhouses, white kitchens, fast furniture, and single-use spaces look like they're soon going to be a thing of the past. The modern farmhouse look, with its barn doors and somewhat impractical sinks, was becoming far too ubiquitous for people's tastes. While it might work in the country, it's just not natural for an NYC apartment. Perhaps more surprising for 2021 is that open floor plans also seem to be going out of style. As people turned their homes into makeshift schools, gyms, and home offices, there was a certain drawback to having so many undefined spaces in the home. Instead, people are starting to see more advantages to walled-off rooms that can be used for a variety of activities throughout the week. 2021 Predictions for Home Interior Design Trends Here's what's likely to dominate the interiors of the most fashionable homes this year. Don’t forget to keep these in mind when hosting an open house this year. Self-Expression In a world of strip malls and housing developments, plenty of homeowners long to do something a bit more daring. The pandemic has only intensified this need for creativity, with more people viewing the empty space as a fun challenge rather than a daunting threat. So whether a person drags out old souvenirs from past trips or clears out a space for a more minimal interpretation, more decisions will have a larger purpose for the homeowner. Post-Modernism Post-modernism doesn't always have the best of connotations, sometimes prompting us to think of horrifying photos from the 1970s of busy rooms in all the wrong colors. But there's been a comeback in this movement as we round its 50th anniversary. Essentially an adverse reaction to the bare spaces of modernism, post-modernism is debuting new materials and ornaments for this year. It's a fun trend that can breathe a little life into an old room. Industrial Styling If even the latest twists in post-modernism don't suit your tastes, you might consider industrial styling as an alternative. The stonework, metal elements, and neutral colors have some of the same principles as minimalism or modernism, yet incorporate more details to explore in the home. This blend of styles is most often recommended for multi-purpose spaces with high ceilings. (It's a great way to pay homage to talented craftsmen in your area too.) Black Kitchens White kitchens were once the rage for luxury kitchens, but as with any song that's been played too long, they're starting to wear out their welcome. Now, people are looking for sleek black countertops, cabinets, and lighting as a way to distinguish the living room from the kitchen. If you have an open floorplan, this is especially recommended if you're not planning to build any walls. Of course, don't necessarily expect this trend to replace the beloved Carrara marble just yet though. I’m also starting to see a lot of brass and copper tones set against these darker colors. Sustainability This one has clearly been on the rise for a while, but worth noting for 2021. This design trend goes hand-in-hand with transparency. People are looking for brands that aren't afraid to share how their products are made and how they treat their employees Rather than giving people vague promises, this year's customers will be looking for companies that highlight diversity in their staff and how the company is doing its part to protect the Earth. Natural Shapes Few things in life are picture-perfect. (The edges of a flower petal would be difficult to measure with a straight ruler.) Maybe that's why we're starting to see wavy shapes nearly everywhere. These more organic choices are thought to remind us of nature and stimulate our creativity. When we've been so cooped up at home, it makes sense that we're all gravitating toward this particular form of expression — whether they're found on a table, painting, or pillow, More Plaster On a more practical note, plaster could see more of a resurgence this year. For years, drywall has been the favorite. It's easy and fast to install, plus it offers a clean and uniform surface for the owner to decorate. On the other hand, plaster has to be layered over wood, presenting logistical challenges that don't always end well. But there's also a depth to plaster, one that offers more texture and (you guessed it) personality to the room. If you're interested in this one, experts recommend coating a drywall with a thin layer of plaster to see how it looks (and avoid demolition cost). So there you have it, an educated guess as to what's to come. Considering the unpredictability of 2020 though, anything can happen with home design. It will all come down to how different design elements speak to the homeowners and what promotes functionality for all of the home's residents. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Are People Really Moving Out of California? Reports Indicate - Yes

California resident packing boxes and moving to texas

Before I get deeper into this article, it is worth noting that I love California. I’ve lived in southern California nearly all my life so this article isn’t meant to sound cynical about the state

Before I get deeper into this article, it is worth noting that I love California. I’ve lived in southern California nearly all my life so this article isn’t meant to sound cynical about the state of affairs around here. I just thought this would be an interesting article to research amid rumors that COVID lockdowns, taxes and regulations are chasing Californians out of dodge. Just in case you were concerned that the reported exodus of California residents to other states has been exaggerated, it seems to not only be true, but perhaps it is gaining momentum. That in itself is maybe a bit surprising, and some of the other facts surrounding the reports will also surprise you. Just to clarify, according to the California Department of Finance, the population of the Golden State was still increasing, but ever so slowly, in the period between July 2019 and July 2020. The state showed a net growth of just 21,200 residents, translating to a percentage growth rate for the 12-month period of just one 1.5%. The growth rate has slowed over the past two decades, but this was a record-setter, something that had not been matched since 1900. During the same period, Los Angeles County reported a net loss in population of more than 40,000, and Orange County is said to have lost nearly 25,000 residents. If you're wondering how to reconcile those numbers, you must dig deeper. The United States Census Bureau confirms that in 2019, 653,000 residents left the state for what they considered greener pastures in other parts of the country. Only 480,000 U.S. residents traded zip codes for one within California. That represents a net loss of 173,000 residents. And that was pre pandemic. But foreign-born new residents were still arriving. The Facts Behind the Stats California, with a population nearing 40 million, grew dramatically for most of the 20th Century. With enviable weather, great natural beauty and plenty of space left for new homes and businesses, it seemed to be the land of opportunity, with a booming job market, lively culture, and great cities, food and entertainment. In the second half of the century, the population almost tripled, but for the last 20 years the growth rate has been relatively flat, and it slowed dramatically in 2017. Reasons include a higher than average cost of living, rising home prices, taxes and overall costs, and a slow but steady change in demographics. As in the rest of the country, California's population growing older, and its birth rate has also declined. But its average age is still young when compared to other states. Unlike the majority of states, however, California is heavily populated by immigrants and minority groups. According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), the state has unique diversity. Its share of foreign-born residents in 2018 was larger than any other state, estimated at 10.6 million. It is also a state with no single race or ethnicity constituting a population majority. Latinos now account for 37% of the population, surpassing the white population in 2014. Other substantial population groups include Asian-American at 15%, African- American numbering 6%, multi-racial groups at 3%, and American Indians or Pacific Islanders under 1%. Reasons for Relocating Out of California In order to understand why California residents are leaving, you cannot discount standard explanations. People relocate for many personal reasons, including new job opportunities, wanting to be closer to family and friends, or simply wanting to taste a new lifestyle. But why aren't people moving into the state? That may also not be difficult to answer. There is no doubt that traffic and weather play a part in the decision-making process. California has suffered more than its share of natural disasters in the past few years. Rising prices of goods and services, a scarcity of affordable housing -- particularly in major cities -- government regulation on business and rising taxes on individuals, and political considerations all have an effect. Rural areas lose residents primarily because jobs disappear, while cities seem to lose people due to rising prices and a lack of safe and affordable housing. California's operating farms have been decreasing for generations by some estimates, and its major cities have become known not for their cosmopolitan atmosphere but for their problems that include escalating prices, a culture of drugs, crime and homelessness, and questionable governance. The effect of COVID-19 also must be considered, and it is not insubstantial. The state has been viewed as a hotspot of infection, and has faced a lot of criticism for its handling of the crisis on local levels. It should be noted that some residents left and sold their home during the pandemic, but that the virus also prevented others from crossing the border into the state, which affects total population numbers. Where Are People Going? Favored destinations for California expats are Texas, Arizona and Idaho, for various reasons. Texas mounted a serious campaign to attract new business, especially from California, several years ago, and it has paid off. With no state income tax, a stable economy, a relatively favorable climate and a friendly vibe, new residents feel at home in Texas. Real estate agents are quick to point out the advantages of selling high and buying low, something that is entirely possible when moving to Texas from other places in the nation. That has helped sustain a building boom in Texas that began shortly after the crisis of 2008. Texas is a hot market for buyers from out of state. Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex are the prime areas. Other California residents, especially those who can continue to work remotely for their employers, head for Phoenix or to Boise, Idaho, which each have some of the same lifestyle, tax and housing advantages, and favorable climates. California real estate spokesmen are quick to confirm the trend. Some of them have even joined the expats, working remotely from new homes out of state, while continuing to represent sellers and buyers in California. What Does the Future Have in Store for the California Population? Will the trend be reversed in the future? It's hard to say, but right now it seems as if California is on the downward slope in terms of population. It will, however, no doubt retain its status as the most highly-populated state for at least the foreseeable future. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

How to Choose a Real Estate Broker to Work For: Key Questions You Need to Ask

New real estate agent joining real estate brokerage

Part of becoming a real estate salesperson, the law requires that you work for a broker. In case you are new to the real estate industry, examples of brokers are Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker

Part of becoming a real estate salesperson, the law requires that you work for a broker. In case you are new to the real estate industry, examples of brokers are Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker and Century 21. It’s important to company to work for - and making the right decision to that end - can absolutely turn into something of an existential question for any new salesperson. But at the same time, all hope is certainly not lost. By asking yourself a few key questions at the beginning of this process, and by understanding the potential pitfalls you could fall into if you make this decision haphazardly, you'll go a long way towards making the best possible choice in terms of both your career and your future. Do this company's values line up with my own? Obviously, the most important question you want to ask yourself before you choose a real estate broker to work for is, in many ways, the most immediate. Does the option you have in front of you line up with your own values? Meaning, is this the type of company you would feel good about working for to begin with? If you're the type of agent who likes to take a more personal and intimate approach to what you do, obviously you wouldn't want to work for a "real estate mill" who is simply trying to turn over agents as quickly as possible. Likewise, do the social values of the company and its leadership line up with your own? Making the wrong choice here could get you into some hot water. Don’t fall prey to the broker who claims to give you all the support in the world but then disappears when you actually need help. Make sure that you talk to some other agents at the company who have been there for at least a year and get the scoop on what it’s really like to work there. What are the opportunities to learn and grow within the organization? Another important question to consider before you choose a real estate broker to work with has to do not with the position you'll be starting at, but what that job might grow and evolve into over time. Obviously, the "right answer" here is going to vary in large part depending on the career trajectory you see yourself in. Some people aspire to be a part-time real estate agent - that's it - and they're totally fine sticking with those basic responsibilities for the duration of their career. But others want the opportunity to find a mentor and maybe even start their own team or have ownership in a brokerage. This will likely require that you get in touch with someone who will teach you the "tricks of the trade" and who can help mold you into a far more sophisticated agent than you could ever be on their own. Which of these two camps you fall into depends on what type of real estate broker you should look for. Again, some leave very little room for growth in the long-term and you may hit your ceiling pretty fast as far as advancement is concerned. Depending on your perspective, that may be okay - but if it isn't, you'll want to find the type of brokerage that actually offers those opportunities. Why Picking the Right Broker Matters More Than You Realize Again, all of this matters so much in large part because picking the right broker can absolutely set the tone for the rest of your career. This is especially true if you're a new agent, as you don't really have a standard definition of what "normal" is supposed to look like yet. You don't want to find yourself short-changed right away, or worse yet forced to accept that this is all there is to your career. You want to pick a company with a vision that aligns with your own to help bring that vision into reality. Likewise, being around a group of productive, like-minded people can definitely help put your career on the right track. But most importantly, starting with what might seem like a better offer initially - and then having to restart with a whole new firm later when you realize that wasn't true - may very well set you back. It's nothing if not costly to switch brokerages, mostly because the broker often makes the agent pay for things like their own business cards, "For Sale" signs and other collateral material. Therefore, picking the right broker today can help you avoid a lot of major issues and potential career setbacks tomorrow. Need help picking a broker? Reach out to me and I would be happy to talk through it with you. Love, Kartik
Realtor Branding Tips

How Important is My Online Presence as a Realtor?

Home buyer looking at real estate agent home listing

According to one recent study, the vast majority of all experiences between a services provider and customers still begin in the exact same way: with a search engine. If you needed just a single statistic

According to one recent study, the vast majority of all experiences between a services provider and customers still begin in the exact same way: with a search engine. If you needed just a single statistic to underline the importance of your online presence as a realtor, let it be that one. Thanks to the rate at which technology continues to advance, consumers are doing more research before purchases than ever before. They want to collect as much information as possible and weigh all of their options carefully before making the decision to part with their hard-earned money. If they're putting in hours upon hours of careful research before investing in something like a new computer, how much effort do you think is going towards some of the larger purchases they'll ever make like a home? In short, quite a lot. This is why it's critical for you to understand that, as a realtor, your online presence is one of the most important elements of your business that you need to keep a careful eye on. This is true for a wide range of different reasons, all of which are worth exploring. Keep an Eye on Google – How Well Does Your Brand Rank? As stated, most experiences between you as a realtor and the people you've dedicated yourself to serving are going to begin with a search engine like Google. This means that if you go to Google right now and type in your business' name, you'd better show up as high on the page as you possibly can. This means not only creating a real estate website or using an online social media platform to showcase yourself, but elevating it above acting as a simple "virtual business card" and into the realm of a helpful online resource that people actually want to use. You need to write blog posts, record videos and offer other helpful content to help people understand why you're someone worth paying attention to in the first place. People have questions and concerns when it comes to buying a home - your website is an opportunity for you to answer them in a way that builds trust and empowers your larger SEO (search engine optimization) efforts at the same time. Improve Your Reviews on 3rd Party Sites Like Zillow and Yelp Of course, people aren't just going to take your word for it that you know what you're talking about when it comes to real estate - they want this confirmed from other real people that you've worked with in the past. Reviews on Zillow or even Yelp may also come in handy when servicing new clients. Use Facebook and Instagram to Make Yourself Available 24/7 It's equally important for you to keep in mind that when it comes to the level of research people are doing ahead of a major purchase like a home, they're not limiting their activities exclusively to "normal working business hours." They're doing research early in the morning and in the middle of the night. They're pouring over options on weekends and at virtually all hours of the day. This means that a successful online presence as a realtor depends on making yourself available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via sites like Facebook and Instagram. Think about it like this: if someone has a question, they want an answer now. They're not going to wait for you to get back to them - they're going to keep trying until they find someone who will. By giving people the opportunity to contact you anywhere at any time, you're making sure they complete the majority of their customer journey with you. In the end, traditional word of mouth may still be the best way to secure real estate leads - but that doesn't make an online presence any less important. Still, both of these things are in service of the most important marketing opportunity of all: doing whatever it takes to generate as many satisfied customers as you can. Love, Kartik
Tips When Buying Homes

First Time Home Buyers, You Need These 7 Documents to Get Preapproved for a Mortgage Loan

Mortgage loan approved by lender

As a first-time home buyer, one of the aspects of the process that people may not be prepared for has to do with the sheer volume of documents that will be required to get qualified for a loan. Of course,

As a first-time home buyer, one of the aspects of the process that people may not be prepared for has to do with the sheer volume of documents that will be required to get qualified for a loan. Of course, it's in their best interest to get these items ready as early on as possible as most sellers expect you to have a pre-approval letter for a mortgage. Having this ready not only shows that they're serious about the process, but it also makes sure that everything goes through without delay. Not only that, but getting pre-qualified for a mortgage can also act as a useful estimate of how much someone can actually afford to spend on a home - thus making sure that they (and you as their real estate agent) are not focusing their attention on the wrong areas. Thankfully, gathering all of these documents together won't be nearly as difficult as you may be assuming. You just need to keep a few key things in mind along the way. Proof of Income By far, the most important document that will be needed to qualify someone for a loan involves some type of proof of income. This will usually require that the buyer produce their W-2 wage statement from the past two years, but recent pay stubs and proof of any additional income (like bonuses) may also be needed. Likewise, buyer's will probably have to produce their most recent two years worth of tax returns. Proof of Assets At that point, buyers will have to produce their proof of assets - which will typically involve bank statements and investment account statements to prove that they have the money necessary for any down payments or closing costs. A Credit Check Containing Your FICO Score Typically speaking, buyers will also have to have good credit in order to qualify for a loan - which means that they'll need to produce what is necessary to run a credit check. For a conventional loan, this means having a FICO score of at least 620 if not higher. If the buyer will be getting a Federal Housing Administration loan, they can usually get by with a score of at least 580. Employment Verification Next, buyers will have to provide some type of employment verification as lenders usually only deal with people who have stable employment. In addition to providing pay stubs, a lender will likely call the buyer's employer to verify that they actually work there. Driver’s License and Social Security Finally, buyers will have to produce a copy of their driver's license and their Social Security number. In addition to being necessary for running a credit score, this will help make sure that the lender has everything they need to confirm that someone is capable of paying back the type of mortgage they are requesting. Final Step: Getting a Mortgage Preapproval Letter from the Lender Once the buyer has all of these documents prepared, their lender will have everything they need to approve a specific loan amount and that will be valid for somewhere between 60 and 90 days. Loan officers will use these documents, along with their own internal systems, to qualify the buyer based on what they've provided and underwriters will be a big part of this process, too. As a real estate agent, you should always ask buyers if they are pre-qualified for a loan BEFORE putting a lot of work in to help them find a home. If nothing else, this will be a useful indicator of what types of potential homes you should be steering them towards. It will also instantly help you separate the more serious home buyers from people who may just be casually looking, thus freeing up as much of your own time as possible to focus on those matters that really need you. Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

4 Ways to Market Your Listing to Sell

For sale sign in front of home

Regardless of the type of business you're running or even the industry that you're operating in, marketing is all about getting the right message in front of the right person at exactly the right time.

Regardless of the type of business you're running or even the industry that you're operating in, marketing is all about getting the right message in front of the right person at exactly the right time. This is especially true with regards to the real estate industry, where listings need to do everything they can to differentiate themselves from every other house available on the market in an effort to move as quickly as possible. Once you've put in the hard work of collecting all information about the property you're trying to sell, taking stunning photographs and putting together that perfect listing, you then need to pull out all the stops to make sure that people actually see it. Therefore, if you really want to craft the perfect marketing campaign to make sure your listing moves quickly, there are a number of factors you'll want to take into consideration. 1. Take Full Advantage of the MLS The first step you should take when marketing a new real estate listing involves using a multiple listing service, also commonly referred to as an MLS, to get the word out about your property. This is a database built by cooperating real estate brokers to provide data about homes for sale in a particular area. This lets agents see each other's listings of properties for sale, commission and agent details, all in the name of connecting buyers to sellers as efficiently as possible. Important Note: The MLS and Zillow are not equal Note that an MLS and a site like Zillow are NOT the same thing and should never be treated as such. That's not to say that sites like Zillow won't be effective for getting the word out about your property, because they will be. Buyers can visit Zillow on their own and see great information and pictures of homes currently for sale, all without ever leaving their computer chairs, but also direct them to use www.realtor.com. This provides access to the MLS database on a user side. 2. Get Active on Social Media - Connect with Your Audience Another important step you'll want to take involves harnessing the full power of social media sites to your advantage. Sites like Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter don't just connect you to countless potential buyers - you can also use social media to target your efforts to specific geographic areas and even towards precise demographics to help get your message in front of as many of the RIGHT potential clients as you can. Be sure to include an overview of the property and as many of your standout photos as possible. Even if someone sees your information on Facebook and isn't ready to buy a home, they may know someone who is - thus allowing them to share the post and get people to contact you as well. 3. Send Emails to Past and Current Clients Along the same lines, you should also send out email blasts to both current and past clients, as well as to all real estate contacts you've established. Again, you never know who is ready to buy a home and you shouldn't write anybody off at any point. By making people aware of the property, you could end up motivating someone who was "thinking of maybe moving in the next year or so" to get excited about doing so sooner rather than later. 4. Send Postcards to Your Real Estate Farm Finally, be sure to send postcards to farm the area to drum up as much attention for the listing as possible. In real estate, farming is when you pick a particular geographic area and establish yourself as the local market authority. By bringing this new listing to everyone's attention, you'll likely increase the chances of selling it as quickly as you can. If nothing else, this is a way to stay in contact with those current and past clients to show them how active you are in their community. So from that perspective, it's killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. You're not only selling your listing quickly, but you're further cementing yourself as the authority that people in the area can trust. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Helping Your Clients Find 'The One' Dream Home

Real estate agent helping client find their dream home

As a real estate agent, one of your main jobs is to help people navigate through what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest financial transactions of their life: buying a new home. But keep in mind that

As a real estate agent, one of your main jobs is to help people navigate through what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest financial transactions of their life: buying a new home. But keep in mind that you need to approach this in more than just a literal sense. Yes, the "nuts and bolts" process of buying a home is as difficult as it is time consuming, so people are going to need someone they trust (read: you) to help make sure that everything proceeds exactly as it should. But there are a lot of agents out there who can help people BUY a house. They're also going to need your assistance in terms of FINDING that perfect house to begin with. They don't just want any old house - they want "the one" that is everything they've been searching for and then some. Therefore, in an effort to help your clients choose that home of their dreams and walk away as satisfied with the process as they'd always hoped they would be, there are a few key things you'll want to keep in mind. Provide Objective, Constructive Insight About the Home By far, the most critical thing you can offer your clients as they search for a new home involves objective, constructive insight whenever possible. Even if a client walks through the door and is immediately enthusiastic about the property, you still need to make sure that they're thinking clearly. Help Them Weigh the Pros and Cons of the Home This means helping them weigh both the pros and the cons. Consider things like the status of the property and even the age and let them know what they might expect five or even ten years down the line. No home is perfect by any means and part of being a homeowner involves dealing with unexpected issues. Use your experience to offer guidance about THIS property in particular and make sure they understand the situation from all angles. Determine the “Wants” and “Needs” of Their Dream Home Likewise, go through a checklist of "wants" and "needs" with your clients and see how a particular property aligns with those goals. What are the elements that a client's "absolute perfect" home MUST have? How any of those boxes does this particular property check? What are the odds that they're going to be able to find a home that meets every last qualification on their list? These are the things you need to be thinking about to help someone make the most informed decision possible. Assess How Your Client is Feeling About the Home Of course, there are certain questions you need to ask of yourself during this period, too. Chief among them is simply "how is the client feeling right now?" Are they excited to the point where they can't stop thinking about the property? Are they already to the point where they're thinking about furniture placement and they can see themselves building a life in this house? If they are, the chances are high that you might have helped them find "the one." If they're not, you'll likely want to continue your search, at least for awhile. Consider the Aspect of Time Finally, you need to consider things from the perspective of time - something there just isn't as much of as people want. How much longer can the client keep looking? What are the current market conditions, and how fast is a property like this one likely to stay on the market? Is inventory high enough where it's even possible to keep looking for a new home indefinitely? Even if someone looks at a home and doesn't consider it to be "the one," can they work with a general contractor and eventually get it to that point one day? This may be what you need to recommend if this property is likely to move fast. While it's possible to follow all of the best practices outlined above and STILL not locate "the one," doing so will still put you in an excellent position to offer as much value to your clients as possible and help them get over the house that got away. That's not just how you help someone buy the home of their dreams - it's also how you turn them into a loyal, lifelong client who will continue to return to you for years to come. Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

Selling a Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic: What You Need to Know

Real estate agent showing a home for sale during covid 19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed just about every industry you can think of dramatically over the last year, but that's especially true in the world of real estate. Gone are the days where

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed just about every industry you can think of dramatically over the last year, but that's especially true in the world of real estate. Gone are the days where you could comfortably hold massive open houses on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, gathering everyone together in a confined space to try to drum up as much attention as possible. Thanks to COVID-19, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone enthusiastic about drawing that many people together - to the point where some might not feel comfortable stepping into a stranger's home at all. However, all hope is not lost. As savvy real estate professionals have shown, it is entirely possible to manage a successful listing during COVID-19. You just have to keep a few key things in mind to help people stay as safe as possible before, during and after the period in which your listing goes live. Be Prepared and Purchase Personal Protection Products: Hand Sanitizer, Face Masks and More At a bare minimum, real estate agents should purchase general hygiene and other personal protection products when both pulling together the information needed for a listing, as well as when showing off the home at a later date. This means bringing along hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, for example. Likewise, face masks and other coverings should be worn for all in-person activities. Experts also agree that you should bring along plastic bags for the disposal of all personal protective equipment and related items that you have brought onto a property. Best Practices to Follow if an Inspection is Needed When it comes to the listing appointments themselves, keep in mind that any initial listing interviews need to take place remotely for the foreseeable future. If any type of inspection needs to be done of the property to guarantee accurate pricing or to assess safety issues, you should keep all of the following best practices in mind: Limit the number of people who will be present for the in-person listing appointment as much as possible. Generally speaking, there should be no more than three people: the agent and the two parties involved in the sale of the home, if applicable. Anyone who lives in the home but who is not directly related to the sale should be asked to leave until the appointment has been completed. If that isn't possible, adequate social distancing rules (staying at least six feet apart at all times) should be followed. Anyone who is going to be at the listing appointment should be prepared to complete a verbal health screening prior to it beginning. All people at the listing appointment need to use hand sanitizer and wear face masks. How to Hold an Open House During COVID-19 With regards to actually showing off the property to potential buyers once the listing has gone live, it is recommended that you encourage the use of virtual showings whenever possible. Yes, this is a significant change from the way things are typically done. But to look on the bright side, virtual showings could attract the attention of a wider range of potential buyers who may not have otherwise been able to see the property. This is especially true for any buyer who may be out of state but who can't travel right now for obvious reasons. Finally, all showings must be held by appointment only and you should schedule at least 30 minutes in between showings for proper sanitization of the environment. If possible, you may want to consider limiting potential showings to only people who have been pre-approved by a mortgage lender. Or, you could do so for people who demonstrate that they have the money and/or financing available to actually buy the property. Doing so isn't just a great way to maximize the use of your time - it can also help significantly cut down on the risk by making sure that you're only showing to people who are actually interested buyers in the first place. Love, Kartik
Real Estate Marketing Tips

4 Email Campaigns to Send to Keep in Touch with Real Estate Clients

Real estate agent emailing her clients

As a real estate agent, the importance of keeping in contact with your past clients is something that simply cannot be overstated. On the one hand, if you've just put someone in a new home that they're

As a real estate agent, the importance of keeping in contact with your past clients is something that simply cannot be overstated. On the one hand, if you've just put someone in a new home that they're overwhelmingly enthusiastic about, you may be asking yourself "what's the point?" Why Staying in Touch with Real Estate Clients is So Important The point is, unless they've told you that they are 100% confident that this is their "forever home," they're eventually going to move again one day or even purchase income property. By staying in consistent contact with them over the years, you'll increase the chances that when that day comes, the first person they pick up the phone and call is YOU. Along the same lines, just because THEY aren't looking for a property doesn't mean they don't know someone who is - and with real estate being a word of mouth business, this is one effective way to generate as much of it as you can and a great way to create a real estate referral system. All of this is to say that keeping your clients for life means staying in contact with them, and email campaigns for your past and current clients are an effective way to accomplish precisely that. Creating the most helpful and effective campaigns, however, requires you to keep a few key things in mind. How Often Should You Email Your Real Estate Clients One of the most important things to consider throughout all of this has to do less with the type of emails you're sending and more about how often you're sending them to begin with. Running these types of email campaigns depends on consistency, but at the same time you don't want to send out messages too often or you run the risk of people tuning out. Typically, be prepared to send a few general updates once a month, or every two months, just to keep people informed as to what is going on in the community around them. This will help you stay at the top of their mind, all while continuing to establish yourself as the local market authority. 4 Email Campaigns You Should Send to Past and Current Clients 1.Reach Out to Your Real Estate Clients During the Holidays or to Celebrate Birthdays Having said that, there are certain situations where you should break from this consistency and send out messages more frequently. Whenever the holidays come along, for example, you'll absolutely want to check in with everyone and wish them well. If you know that one of your past clients has a birthday coming up, you'll also want to reach out to them with a personal message to show them that you're still thinking of them and paying attention. Any other types of big life events (if you know a past client just welcomed a baby into the world, for example) will absolutely fall under this umbrella. 2. When the Seasons Change, Share Home Décor Tips If you DON'T have a new listing on the market that you want to show off to people, you can still use these periodic check ins as a way to bring something of value to past clients, too. You could always send out an email message dedicated to nothing but home decor tips, for example - especially as the seasons change and people are thinking of switching up their current look. 3. Share Home Renovation Project Ideas If you know a certain number of your past clients have been in their homes longer than five years, you could also offer insight on potential renovation projects they may want to participate in. This would have been particularly helpful if you were able to do it at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as people suddenly found themselves stuck indoors with a lot of free time on their hands. 4. Send Delicious Recipes That Pair Well with the Holidays You could even just send out messages with recipes that people might want to try when they get the chance. Did you sell a lot of homes to first time homebuyers last year? With the holidays here, you could send out a message giving them all the ins and outs of cooking the perfect holiday treats to really "break in" their new home in style. Remember to Keep in Touch Regardless, you'll always want to capitalize on any opportunity you have to remind people that you're out there, and these are the types of email campaigns that allow you to do precisely that. Love, Kartik
Tips When Buying Homes

Breaking Down the Importance of a Home Inspection

Home inspector detecting issues

To say that the stakes are high when purchasing a home is an understatement. Not only is any new home purchase one of the turning points in most people's lives, but it also represents an enormous financial

To say that the stakes are high when purchasing a home is an understatement. Not only is any new home purchase one of the turning points in most people's lives, but it also represents an enormous financial investment - the likes of which you may never actually make again. One of the most critical parts of this process is also, unfortunately, the one that a lot of people tend to overlook until it's too late: The home inspection. Why Buyers Should Never Skip a Home Inspection Buying a home is costly, yes, to the point where you may be tempted to capitalize on any opportunity to save a little money where you can. But you shouldn't do so with regards to your home inspection. A good home inspector is worth their weight in gold and the inspection brings an array of benefits that you literally cannot afford to ignore. Reason 1: It Protects the Buyer by Identifying Potential Safety Issues By far, one of the biggest reasons why a home inspection is so important comes down to how it can protect the buyer before they move in. A trained home inspector can help detect issues that you won't necessarily see on a simple walk-through, ranging from radon to carbon monoxide problems to mold and more. A home inspector will also be on the lookout for any work that was done on the house without a proper permit, or in a way that wasn't up to code. For example, this expertise can be critical in terms of the home's electrical system, which should only ever be worked on by a qualified electrician. Just because the lights work or because "the house hasn't burned down yet" doesn't mean you're out of the woods from a safety perspective. Even if there are no major issues but you still have work that wasn't completed without the proper permits, it could impact the amount you'll pay in insurance, taxes and even your ability to re-sell the house again in the future. All of this is to say that if you needed a single reason to underline the importance of a home inspection, let it be that one. Reason 2: It Uncovers Costly Repairs in the Future Of course, the benefits certainly don't stop there. A home inspector can also give you valuable information about the age (and condition) of the home your Realtor might not even have. They'll be able to take a closer look at things like plumbing, your HVAC system and more - all so that you can get a better idea of how much (and when) you'll have to pay for upgrades in the future. Reason 3: It Can Be Used as a Negotiation Tool On that point, this can also be a particularly useful negotiating tool before the sale itself goes through. If a home inspector tells you that the heating and cooling system needs to be replaced and it'll cost an estimated $3,000, you could potentially have your real estate agent negotiate to have the seller take care of it (or, conversely, have them drop the price or credit you by that same amount to get the sale completed faster). Reason 4: The Inspector Can Give Valuable Homeowner Advice Your home inspector should also be able to suggest specific, actionable tips for how to maintain your home as well - which itself could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your ownership. Additional Considerations About Your Home Inspection One thing to keep in mind, however, is that home inspectors in the state of California aren't actually licensed by the state - meaning that anyone can start their own home inspection business without any type of regulatory oversight to speak of. Therefore, you should do your research before deciding on a home inspector to go with. In the end, a new home is one of the most important investments you'll ever make - and that investment deserves to be protected. Getting a home inspection is a great way to accomplish precisely that, all while giving you enough actionable information necessary to make smarter and more informed decisions through the purchasing process. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

The Fine Art of Handling Buyer and Seller Objections in Real Estate: What You Need to Know

Real estate agent listening to buyers objections

Without a doubt, real estate is primarily a sales-driven job. Regardless of how skilled a particular agent happens to be, getting objections from both buyers and sellers is a common part in the daily life

Without a doubt, real estate is primarily a sales-driven job. Regardless of how skilled a particular agent happens to be, getting objections from both buyers and sellers is a common part in the daily life of a Realtor . Sometimes they'll be completely legitimate concerns and it's part of your job to ease the client’s mind. On the other hand, on occasion there are instances where the client may be acting more out of emotion and not reason, and you'll need to figure out how to deal with those types of situations, too. How to Handle Common Real Estate Objections Still, HOW these objections are handled - and knowing what to say and how to say it - will no doubt lead to more sales moving forward. Therefore, if you want to get better at handling objections from both buyers and sellers, there are a few key things you'll want to keep in mind. Take the Time to Understand Their Point of View By far, the most important thing to keep in mind when fielding an objection from anyone is that you need to be proactive about trying to understand someone's position. Don't just think literally about what the objection is - try to go beyond the words and really get a sense of where this is actually coming from. Buying or selling a home is a major transaction (not to mention a significant moment in someone's life), and that's naturally going to put people on edge. Likewise, some people are simply more risk adverse than others. By really trying to understand someone's position and by getting a better sense of their point of view, it can help focus on exactly what you need to say to move forward with the deal, and how to best present it moving forward. Be Sure to Validate Their Opinions Similarly, you'll also want to make sure that the prospect feels validated. Don't simply write off their concern as irrelevant because that's only going to put you farther away from your goal, not closer to it. Even if an objection is coming up simply because of someone's fear of change, that's okay - you can't help that someone feels the way they feel. As an example I’m writing this six months into the Coronavirus pandemic and prior to a presidential election. Your buyer might want to wait until after the election to make a buying decision. This may or may not be a wise decision but I would dig deeper into their motivation for buying a home. Do they want to get wrapped up into a one year lease and pay a year worth of rent while they “wait it out”. Are they willing to risk interest rates increasing while they try and wrap their minds around the market? Are they willing to risk losing out on their dream home if one is available now? The major reason why all of this is important is because your ability to handle objections to everyone's satisfaction also helps build trust, an invaluable part of the relationships you're currently navigating. Remember that trusting someone isn't as simple as turning on a light switch - it ultimately takes time and care to build. Build Trust by Actively Listening By showing buyers and sellers that you're really listening to them and that you're paying attention to what they have to say, you're naturally in a better position to use trust to overcome the objection. Because at that point, they'll be able to see that you care about their success and that you clearly have their best interest in mind. Most of the time, that's all someone is looking for in the first place and sometimes objections happen when that sense of trust just isn't there yet. As Always, Remain Positive Whenever objections come up, try to remind both buyers and sellers of the positive side of what is going on. With rare exception, those positives will far outweigh the negatives and if you can just get them to say focused on those qualities that really matter, the situation will undoubtedly resolve itself and you'll be able to move forward in no-time. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

What is Escrow and How Exactly Does it Work?

Home buyers standing in front of house that is in escrow

One of the most important elements of the real estate process is also, for many people, among the most misunderstood: escrow. At its core, escrow is simply a legal arrangement in which a third party

One of the most important elements of the real estate process is also, for many people, among the most misunderstood: escrow. At its core, escrow is simply a legal arrangement in which a third party (typically referred to as an escrow company) temporarily holds a large sum of money or a piece of property until a particular condition has been met. In other words, if you're about to buy a brand-new home, an escrow company might hold onto some funds until the transaction has been finalized. At that point, the money would move into the hands of the seller and the title into the hands of the buyer and everything would close exactly as it should. Why Escrow Matters and When Is It Used? Depending on the transaction, escrow will be used for one of two different reasons. For starters, it's a way to protect the buyer's good faith deposit (also commonly referred to as earnest money) so that the money is guaranteed to go to the seller according to the conditions that have already been laid out for the sale. Secondly, escrow companies hold onto a homeowner's funds for the purposes of taxes and insurance for a lender and borrower - thus making sure that they actually get paid and that nothing holds up the completion of the transaction for any of the other parties. Special note: Escrow accounts don't cover ALL of the expenses related to one's impending homeownership. Things like homeowner's association fees, or money needed to pay current utility bills, would not be covered by escrow accounts. The key thing to understand here is that earnest money is designed to show a seller that a buyer is serious about making a sale. If the contract falls through due to anything having to do with the buyer, like if they suddenly decide to back out at the 11th hour, the seller is supposed to be able to keep that money. If no third-party escrow company was present, it's feared that buyers would try to keep funds that are no longer rightfully theirs. Likewise, the reverse is true. If the home purchase goes through successfully, that earnest money is supposed to be applied to the buyer's down payment. If that money were just handed over to the seller ahead of time, there is a fear that they might try to find some excuse to keep it.Obviously, this is problematic because of the sheer sum of money that you might be talking about. Additional Situations When Escrow is Critical to a Real Estate Transaction Another related concept it's important to understand has to do with what is called an escrow holdback - or a situation where funds are held in escrow beyond the completion of a transaction. One of the most common reasons why this might happen has to do with a buyer who may find something problematic with the home during a final walk through and home inspection . The seller may agree to fix the issue,but it will take a week or two - thus triggering the hold back and the funds to be held in escrow. Another situation that may require a holdback is when a buyer agrees that the seller can stay in a home for a longer period of time beyond the closing date. This, too, is quite common as sometimes sellers need additional time to get their new home ready. Likewise,if you're a buyer in the process of actually building a new home from the ground up, that money will likely remain in escrow not until the completion of the transaction, but until you've had a chance to sign off on all the work. Remember, Escrow Companies Are There for Your Protection Regardless, escrow (and by association, escrow companies) are essential in that they protect the best interests of ALL parties involved in a real estate transaction. They are seen as objective third parties with a tremendous amount of responsibility and they're often one of the major reasons why transactions are completed successfully at all. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Top Qualities of a Successful Real Estate Agent: Breaking Things Down

Real estate agent shaking clients hand

In a lot of ways, the real estate industry is unique in that there are so many moving parts at play. Every property is different, and the same can be said for every buyer and seller. But the one common

In a lot of ways, the real estate industry is unique in that there are so many moving parts at play. Every property is different, and the same can be said for every buyer and seller. But the one common thread that runs through it all is that there is often a passionate industry professional involved. What kind of personality does best in real estate? But of course, this begs the question - exactly what makes for a good real estate agent anyway? What personality traits are required to move from real estate agent to “successful" real estate agent as quickly as possible? The answers to those questions are largely straightforward - they simply require you to keep a few key things in mind. 1. Having a Problem Solver Mindset By far, one of the most important personality traits to have as a real estate agent involves a true problem solver mindset. Every transaction you're a part of will have several "moving parts," and sometimes things can go unpredictably. You'll be asked to come up with creative solutions to interesting problems and issues on a daily basis. Likewise, something as simple as showing a home can be a challenge as every property is truly unique in and of itself. None of this is a problem at all if you're the type of person who genuinely loves coming up with solutions to these and other types of issues. What happens if you are on the listing side of a transaction and the buyer completes their home inspection and asks for a laundry list of repairs? How are you going to handle this and keep your deal together? How will you deal with a difficult client? What happens if you are in a divorce transaction and suddenly one spouse no longer wishes to sell the home after you’ve spent 30 days heavily marketing it? You can see that the ability to think on your feet and problem solve is paramount. 2. Being an Ambitious Self-Starter Likewise, the importance of being a self-starter is hard to overstate. Even if you're working in a firm with a lot of other agents, you're still the "master of your own domain," so to speak. You'll largely set your own hours and you'll need to be a driven, self-motivated person if you're going to make it work. 3. Tenacity This relates to another one of the most important personality traits to have as a real estate agent - the type of tenacity that will serve you well all throughout your career. In addition to a great work ethic, you need to understand that leads in real estate aren't just going to generate themselves. You'll have to market your clients' properties - sometimes in aggressive ways - in order to attract as much attention as possible from qualified individuals. There ARE buyers out there for every property, just like there is a home out there for every home buyer. It's just that they aren't going to suddenly land in your lap - you're going to have to go out and find them and some days that will be easier than others. 4. Be Engaging and Having a Winning Attitude Finally, a critical personality trait that all successful real estate agents share is that they have an engaging and winning personality. A big part of your success as a real estate agent involves marketing yourself every bit as successfully as you market those properties. Being personable, acting with integrity and having confidence as an agent are significant pieces of the puzzle. In the end it's important to note that despite all of the above, it's absolutely true that any personality will do well in the real estate industry provided that you know exactly what to expect. It's certainly not a profession for people who cherish the ability to work a standard "nine to five" job. It also may not be the best fit for someone who likes a rigid, predictable structure in terms of their professional life. While the above traits are certainly helpful, they are not a requirement to succeed as a real estate agent. Provided that you have a deep passion for what you do and relish the opportunity to help people in your area find the types of homes they've always dreamed of, you will absolutely be able to succeed and make a real career out of it. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to Negotiate a Higher Commission Split as a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent negotiating a higher commission split with her broker

While this topic might be a little more advanced, especially if you are just starting real estate school online, it’s an important topic, nonetheless. Generally speaking, the way the real estate industry

While this topic might be a little more advanced, especially if you are just starting real estate school online, it’s an important topic, nonetheless. Generally speaking, the way the real estate industry typically works goes a little something like this: A real estate agent works for a broker (think any company like Century 21, Coldwell Banker, etc.) and together, they combine their resources to help sell a home. More often than not, the company keeps some percentage of the overall commission fees that are paid out after the transaction in question has closed. As a direct result of their hard work and dedication, the real estate agent gets to keep some percentage of that commission. This process repeats itself, again and again, as each home is sold. Over time, the real estate agent will sell more and more homes. Sometimes the average value of the homes they are selling increases. Sometimes their frequency increases. Regardless - this person continues to build experience and generate business for the broker and, as a result, the amount of money they get to keep should increase, too. However, this doesn't necessarily happen automatically. Typically, there will come a time when a real estate agent actually has to go into the broker’s office and negotiate to keep a higher percentage of the commission - something that can be particularly scary if you haven't been in the real estate industry for very long. But thankfully, the process itself is quite straightforward - provided that you're able to keep a few key things in mind along the way. Most companies are going to have a published schedule wherein the commission splits are very transparent but what if you want to move up quicker? What if you have a huge deal you are working on and want a special arrangement on that transaction? 3 Negotiation Steps to Getting a Higher Commission Split 1. Analyze your Progress What may be the most important thing to understand about this process is that before you even think about walking into the boss' office and asking for what amounts to a salary increase, you need to do your due diligence. Decide on a period of time and pour over the data about each transaction to essentially track the trajectory of your career. Use cold, hard numbers to show not only how you've improved in your position, but how the value that you've been able to bring to the broker has increased, too. Maybe you've been selling more homes than you were when you first started. Maybe the average transaction price has increased exponentially. Maybe it's both at the same time. Regardless, at a large company your broker might not “just know this” and they might not take your word for it. You need to be able to clearly illustrate the value that you're currently bringing to the operation and why that value is worth a higher commission split. You're not going to be able to get to that point without preparation, so this process begins here. 2. Do your Research Likewise, you need to make sure that you're well aware of what commission split plans are in place to see exactly what you qualify for to begin with. Not only is this a great way to enter into the conversation armed with as much information as possible, but it's also a way to proceed without seeming too demanding as well. So instead of going into someone's office and saying "I want X," start a conversation about your current split and why you have earned more. See which ones you qualify for and ask if there is one that will promote your growth within the company faster than the one you're currently on. 3. Review your Goals Finally, you always want to make sure you know where you're headed before asking for your next commission split increase. Essentially, you need to know what your goals are for your career in the next five years to determine what you should be asking for to begin with. If you know what the next "level" is and what you need to do to achieve it, suddenly something that was once overwhelming doesn't seem so insurmountable anymore. You've broken the process down into a series of smaller and more manageable steps, which will absolutely help you stay motivated at the same time. If you can find time to do this between managing your client expectations and meeting your broker’s, you can be sure that you’re on the right track to taking your career to the next level. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

Breaking Down the Role of a Real Estate Transaction Coordinator

Transaction coordinators calendar on ipad

An interesting thing about the real estate industry is that there are far more people involved in the sale of a home than a lot of people realize. Of course, there is a buyer, a seller and their respective

An interesting thing about the real estate industry is that there are far more people involved in the sale of a home than a lot of people realize. Of course, there is a buyer, a seller and their respective licensed real estate agents - that much is obvious. Sometimes, the roles are clear - nobody questions what an appraiser does, because the job description is explanation enough. But one of the most often overlooked positions in real estate is also, in a lot of situations, among the most important. The role is that of the transaction coordinator, and in a lot of ways their specific job may very well be one of the most important of all. What is a Real Estate Transaction Coordinator? While a transaction coordinator is not a legal requirement in a real estate transaction, as the name suggests, a transaction coordinator is a real estate professional tasked with managing all of the paperwork and deadlines involved in a real estate transaction. If you've ever purchased a home and felt overwhelmed about the sheer volume of paperwork you're expected to read and sign, just think about how the person who had to prepare all that paperwork must feel. Why are Transaction Coordinators Important to the Home Selling Process? The reason why this role is so important is because a good transaction coordinator is trained in every step of the sales process. A big part of their job involves monitoring the life of the transaction, from the moment a seller and buyer enter into contract all the way through the steps required to properly close. What Does a Transaction Coordinator Do? Just a few of the jobs they have to perform on a regular basis include but are not limited to ones like: Opening escrow Coordinating inspections Overseeing repair negotiations Communicating important updates to clients Monitoring all documentation that is submitted Coordinating the closing process and more. In a larger sense, this is the person who is making sure that the wheels don't fall off the car, so to speak. It's their job to both make sure that an agent never gets bogged down by administrative tasks so that they can always focus on the client, as well as to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and everything gets done properly and on-time based on the purchase agreement. Transaction Coordinators Help Simplify a Complex Process Overall, they're in charge of making sure that no unnecessary delays happen during this admittedly complicated process, all in service of the most important goal of all: closing a transaction and helping to create the most positive experiences for clients, no exceptions.
Practical advice for real estate agents

Increasing Your Confidence as a Real Estate Professional: Your Guide

A confident real estate agent closing a sale on a home

If you had to make a list of some of the most important traits that any successful real estate professional should have, confidence would undoubtedly be right at the top. In a lot of ways, being a real

If you had to make a list of some of the most important traits that any successful real estate professional should have, confidence would undoubtedly be right at the top. In a lot of ways, being a real estate agent involves selling yourself every bit as much as you sell those properties in your area. There are so many real estate professionals in your area - people don't just need to know that you can get the job done. In a matter of moments, you need to be able to convince someone that nobody does what you do quite like how you do it, and why that will be such an advantage to them in the weeks and months ahead. Without confidence in yourself and your abilities, that won't just be difficult - it'll be impossible. But at the same time, a lot of people often come into the real estate business as a second or even a third career - making it a scary prospect for a lot of them. After all, there is no base salary. There are no health benefits. Most agents are independent contractors and, as stated, the competition is fierce. If you truly want to separate yourself from the pack, increasing your confidence is how you do it - and this is something you can accomplish in a wide range of ways, all of which are worth exploring. 3 Ways to Build Your Confidence as a new Real Estate Agent 1. Find a Real Estate Mentor to “Show You the Ropes” By far, one of the best opportunities you have to build confidence in your abilities as a real estate agent involves finding a mentor who can "show you the ropes," so to speak. They'll do more than just help build your skills and knowledge – real estate mentors also teach you how to better yourself in a way that you'd be hard-pressed to replicate on your own. If you work day in and day out with someone who is a proven success, you'll be able to see first-hand what works and what doesn't. You'll see everything that goes into each victory and how they deal with each failure. It's a process that takes years but it's also one that is more than worth it. 2. Be Patient – Give Yourself Time to Learn and Gain Experience Another one of the best ways to be more confident as a real estate professional involves giving yourself permission to be patient with your abilities. You're not going to come right out of the gate and be an overwhelming success in your field. You're probably not going to sell your first house immediately after you stage it. You will make mistakes and some days will be more difficult than others. All of this is more than okay, because each part of it is a big factor in determining your career trajectory. There's an old saying that tells us it takes a long time to become an "overnight success" - whoever coined that phrase was talking about real estate whether they realized it or not. In other words, try not to be too hard on yourself and just be patient. Slowly but surely, your confidence will build as a result. 3. Master Your Craft by Continuously Learning Finally, you need to understand that continuing education and a willingness to keep learning and keep improving is one of the core components of a confident real estate professional. Anyone who tells you they've "done enough" to develop their career or they've "learned all they can" about the industry or their local real estate markets is someone who lost a game they never truly understood in the first place. Any confidence they have is unearned at best. You should always look for new opportunities to improve your abilities. You should always capitalize on a chance to hone your skills, or develop a new trait. Your willingness to grow and learn will always impact your ability to do both. Once you acknowledge that, you'll see each incremental growth step - regardless of how small - as a victory in and of itself. Truly, the confidence that comes with that alone is more than worth the effort for most people and it certainly will be for you, too. Love, Kartik
Real Estate Marketing Tips

Social Media Strategies for Realtors: Making a Connection With Your Audience

Real estate agent writing a new facebook post

According to one recent study all of the popular social media networks combined have nearly 3.725 billion active users between them. To put that into context, this represents the vast majority of the 4.54

According to one recent study all of the popular social media networks combined have nearly 3.725 billion active users between them. To put that into context, this represents the vast majority of the 4.54 billion Internet users worldwide - and a pretty significant percentage of the 7.8 billion people on our planet. Whether you're attempting to reach the largest audience possible as a Realtor or want to attract the attention of a small, niche and decidedly local market, social media can help you do all of this and more. But it's important to understand that you need a genuine strategy at the heart of your efforts - something to not only help make sure you're moving in the right direction, but that is also custom built to help you accomplish your specific goals (regardless of what they happen to be). Therefore, if you truly want to succeed on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as a Realtor in the modern era, there are a number of best practices you'll want to keep in mind. It All Begins and Ends With Value By far, one of the most important opportunities that you have to leverage social media to your advantage as a Realtor involves communicating the raw value you're able to bring to the table as clearly and as concisely as possible. Really, this is a best practice that you should be following across all of your marketing endeavors - not just social media, but it will certainly help. Generally speaking, everyone you're going to be communicating with probably already knows what a Realtor does in a large, over-arching sense. They don't need you to provide them with an overview of your job description. This means you shouldn't be afraid to dive deep into the parts of your job that a lot of people don't think about - like how you're an expert in the ever-changing conditions of your local market. Showcase your knowledge of the average time on the market for homes in your area and provide insight into what it means to be a buyer's market versus a seller's market. Ask yourself what you would want to see if you followed a local Realtor. The answers to this question will guide every piece of content you create - not only for social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, but all across your marketing strategy. Always place the emphasis on the people you're trying to reach instead of yourself. You Have to Play the Numbers Game Another important thing you need to be aware of in terms of leveraging social media as a Realtor involves the fact that you should NOT be shy to send direct messages on sites like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or even Twitter. If there's a particular niche that you serve, always go out of your way to reach out and make direct contact with someone to see if you can begin a conversation online and continue it in "real life." Now, the critical thing to understand about this is that you should NOT expect every single person that you message to write you back. They may never see your message at all - or they may leave you on "read" and never respond. This is perfectly okay... so long as you're aware that it's an inevitability and that you do NOT take it personally. Just keep reaching out to the people in your target audience in a concise, consistent manner. But if you send messages to 100 people, maybe 20 will respond. Good news - now you have 20 opportunities to convert prospects into genuine leads that you didn't have before you started. Always, Always, ALWAYS Research Someone First But while reaching out to people via direct messages is always recommended, it's definitely not something you should do blindly. Luckily, you already have a resource that will tell you just about everything you need to know about someone: Their social media profile. Before you send any type of message, make sure that you take a long, hard look at their account for five or ten minutes. This is critical because if someone just posted a picture 20 minutes ago about how their cat passed away earlier in the day, they're definitely not going to be receptive to a hard sales pitch. At best, you're wasting your time and you'll never hear a response from that person. At worst, you'll inadvertently cause such a negative experience that they'll tell their friends and family members about you and at that point, every one of those people is cut off from you permanently. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize Speaking of personalization, one of the biggest mistakes that you can make in terms of establishing your social media presence as a Realtor involves simply copying and pasting messages from person to person. There's no faster way to get someone to hit that "Delete" button than to open a message with "Dear Sir/Madame." These days, people don't want to be "sold to" any longer. They simply don't have the time or the patience for it, considering that they're being bombarded by marketing messages nearly every minute of the day. They get ads in their email inboxes. They get ads on the websites they visit. There are already paid ads on social media. People have started to tune them out - they're little more than "white noise" at this point. The Power of Visual Communication For example, don't be afraid to send pictures through direct messages of houses or buildings that you or your company has recently sold. Sure, you could go into detail about the transaction and what the property has to offer - but you won't be able to make the same type of immediate impact that a picture can with text alone. Overall, this visual approach helps you accomplish a number of things, all of which are critical to your social media success. For starters, images again are just naturally more engaging than text alone and if there's one thing you need as a Realtor on social media, it's engagement. But secondly, images are a great way to show off that you or your company (in the case of new agents) are very active in your community and the area you've dedicated yourself to serving. If people can see all of the real estate transactions you've been a part of, it again starts to establish you as someone worth paying attention to. This in turn generates an enormous amount of social proof as people start to share those images, thus exposing even more potential clients to your brand. Whether you are just starting out in our great real estate business or you are a veteran Realtor it doesn’t hurt to lean into social media as far as possible and cultivate new relationships. Love, Kartik
Real Estate Marketing Tips

Does Direct Mail Real Estate Marketing Work

Mailbox with a direct mail real estate postcard

The truth is that any marketing can work it’s just a matter of how effective it is. As it relates to direct mail, it’s hard to envision a world where the volume of mail is dropped to absolute zero.

The truth is that any marketing can work it’s just a matter of how effective it is. As it relates to direct mail, it’s hard to envision a world where the volume of mail is dropped to absolute zero. As a consequence, direct mail marketing should be here for a good while. The question really comes down to what are some best practices to succeed in making connections that start at the mailbox. 1. Test the Market It may take a few tries to get your target market down. But don’t give up — once you figure out what works, it will be so much easier to continue. Every real estate market has different types of clients, different price points and potential clients with varying needs. Consider creative approaches like sending direct mailers to those living in apartment complexes to convert them to buyers. Consider sending mailers to a down market on an up market listing and aim for two transactions from one mailer. As an example, let’s say you have a $900,000 listing. Consider sending information on that $900,000 listing to a $650,000 neighborhood encouraging them to sell their smaller house and upgrade to a larger one. To this end, A/B testing is absolutely critical. Keep track of what you are sending and to who you are sending it and note the response rates. Pour resources into it. You never know who is thinking about buying real estate and if they see your marketing materials, you’re going to get the call. 2. Point Your Direct Mail To Your Web Presence The world of print should always point to easy-to-find information about how to contact you on social media or online. People want to see that their potential agent is relevant online and has a web presence. By checking you out online, potential clients get a feel for whether you're a good fit. If they find you easily accessible and active, they’re likely to refer you to friends after you work together — or even call you again if they make another big decision! Consider linking all your social media channels on your postcard or letter to make it easy for leads to connect with you. Folks tend to lose interest if they have to search high and low to find you. 3. Be Personal Ever get mail that just reads “current resident” with your address? How impersonal does that feel? Include the person’s name, because a personal detail goes a very long way. If this person gets two mailers, the one that has their name will likely stick around awhile — at least longer than the one they received that could have gone to anybody. Most title companies will pass this information to you in the .csv file for your farm mailers. 4. Speak Highly of Yourself Include ratings, success stories or testimonials if possible. You could even center your whole campaign around a few happy customers in your target market. Hesitancy will decrease significantly if someone sees that other people have been happy with a service. 5. Make It a Keeper When considering USPS mail, consider adding features that will make your information less likely to go in the trash. As it relates to real estate, this means market data that is hyper local and relevant to the area you are mailing to is less likely to be thrown away. 6. Focus on Cohesive Horizontal Design Picture your client walking up the steps from their mailbox, likely at the end of the day, fumbling with groceries, keys or even more. Most of their mail, envelopes, postcards and menus will have a horizontal orientation. Don’t be an outlier, or you’ll likely get tossed. Design your mailer to be cohesive and not intrusive. Make sure they don’t have to turn it every which way to get your message. Make it easy for them. Direct mail is a great way to get exposure. It’s often less expensive than billboards or other advertising methods and it can be passed around and seen by many sets of eyes. Figure out what works for you, and you'll see success. Whatever the marketing channel, remember that consistency always beats out creativity so just keep going!
Selling Homes

Who pays for closing costs in California?

Real estate agent calculating closing costs with client

In any real estate transaction, there are closing costs that are to be paid by both the buyer and the seller, and it's important to remember that these can vary from state to state and transaction to transaction.

In any real estate transaction, there are closing costs that are to be paid by both the buyer and the seller, and it's important to remember that these can vary from state to state and transaction to transaction. I wanted to give you a quick run down from both a buyer and a seller perspective for California. Typical Closing Costs Paid by the Seller Let’s start with closing costs that are typically paid by the seller. A back of the envelope estimate would reveal that it would cost most sellers between 6 and 8 percent of the sales price to sell their home. The majority of the this is going to be wrapped up in real estate commissions as the seller generally pays between 4 and 6 percent of the sales price to sell it. The other 1 to 3 percent may be in other closing costs like back property taxes that are owed by the seller that will have to be paid at the close of escrow. Even if the property taxes are not delinquent, these taxes are a seller responsibility until the escrow closes. For example, if the transaction were to close on April 10th, the property taxes up until April 10th would the responsibility of the seller. Anything after that date would be passed to the buyer side of the closing. Sellers will also have to pay their share of escrow fees and any back homeowner association dues until the date that the escrow closes. The seller will also pay for any repairs that the buyer successfully negotiates during the escrow process. A home inspection, for example, might reveal that a roof is leaking and instead of the seller fixing the roof, the buyer may ask for a $7,000 credit to fix the roof in lieu of the actual repair. This would be deducted from the seller's proceeds at the close of escrow. The industry standard in California is also that the seller will pay for a title insurance policy protecting the buyer. Common Closing Costs Paid by the Buyer As it relates to the buyer, a quick estimate of their costs would reveal a range between 1-3 percent of the sales price, with most of this is going to go to fees charged by the lender. A lender may charge a fee, known as a point that is equal to one percent of the loan amount. The point could be categorized as either a discount point or an origination point. The difference between the two is that a discount point is a point paid to the lender to lower the interest rate on the loan. An origination point, on the other hand, is a fee that is paid to the lender to compensate them for actually doing the loan. Generally, buyers will also pay the lender a credit report fee and are also responsible for their share of prorated property taxes. Generally, buyers will also pay for a title insurance policy covering the lender. This is different than the owner's title insurance policy that I described above that the seller paid for to protect the buyer. What this means is that there’s two policies of title insurance in connection with a real estate transaction on which there is a loan. First, there is an owner’s policy to protect the buyer as well as a lender policy covering the lender. Buyers will also pay for their share of any escrow fees which are negotiable in California. Speaking of escrow fees, it’s important to note that there’s usually a base escrow fee of between $200 and $400 and then the escrow fees themselves are often $2-$3 per thousand per side. Larger real estate transactions of several million dollars might have a lower per thousand escrow fee. It's also helpful to remember that many of these fees are negotiable. Certainly real estate commissions are negotiable but an often overlooked point is escrow fees can also be negotiated with the escrow holder. How to Calculate Closing Costs – A Simple Example As an example on a $600,000 purchase the base escrow fee might be: $300 + $2/$1,000 = 600 x $2 = $1,200 $1,200 + $300 base fee = $1,500 for each side of the deal. Buyers also generally pay for an appraisal on the property as required by their lender and a home inspection and other inspections as part of their due diligence. Before you get your real estate license in California, it's important to familiarize yourself at some level with the typical closing costs, so you can properly inform your client. Often, real estate agents will produce something called a net sheet which estimates the costs to complete a transaction. Your broker should train you on how to properly fill these out so you can demonstrate that you're as informed as possible. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Understanding What Unlicensed Real Estate Assistants Can and Cannot Do

Unlicensed real estate assistant working on her laptop

Generally speaking, it's common knowledge that real estate agents are required to be licensed in the state in which they practice. This is more than just a simple formality, of course. Taking the real

Generally speaking, it's common knowledge that real estate agents are required to be licensed in the state in which they practice. This is more than just a simple formality, of course. Taking the real estate classes and becoming a licensed agent proves that you've gone through the training and education necessary to do the job. It's also an example of your commitment to follow the industry ethics and standards of your specific state when it comes to marketing, sales, negotiations and the completion of transactions. But more than that, a real estate license is also proof of your dedication to all of these ideas in the eyes of your potential clients - thus allowing them to move into a deeper and longer-lasting relationship with you with as much peace-of-mind as possible. As you progress in your career you may have to hire an assistant one day who might not be licensed to help you manage some of the day-to-day aspects of your operation. Because of this, questions often arise as to exactly what these assistants can or cannot do. Are they a real estate agent in everything but the name? Are their duties limited in some other type of way, especially in the eyes of the law? Luckily, the California Department of Real Estate has issued a set of guidelines specifically for these unlicensed assistants who work in the real estate industry, shedding insight into exactly what is expected of them and, more importantly, what isn't. It's an invaluable resource for anyone involved in a real estate transaction and understanding it requires you to keep a few key things in mind. What Unlicensed Assistants CAN Do in California: An Overview In the state of California, unlicensed assistants are definitely allowed to assist in the performance of cold contacting potential prospects. Indeed, this is a large part of the reason why real estate agents may seek out their help in the first place. This includes not only making telephone calls, but also using electronic communication like emails or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to try to generate as much interest in the services of the real estate agent as possible. The unlicensed agent can answer questions about what types of services that the agent can provide, and they can even schedule an appointment so that all parties can meet. It's important to note, however, that this type of canvassing can ONLY be used to develop general information about the person being called. An unlicensed agent can call to determine whether or not someone would be interested in the services of the real estate agent, for example. They can NOT try to induce the person to use the agent's services in any way. Another way that unlicensed agents often prove invaluable ultimately comes down to the role they play in open houses. Unlicensed assistants are absolutely allowed to place signs in public areas throughout the neighborhood, for example, and can provide factual information about the house in question either verbally or through pre-printed materials. They can greet the general public when they walk through the door and can even schedule times for further appointments. All of this can again save the agent an incredible amount of time, thus allowing them to devote more of their attention on those tasks that truly need them. They have to do all of this with the express consent of the owner however - they can't just decide to do it on their own. The Administrative Roles of the Unlicensed Assistant Unlicensed assistants are also allowed to help their agent in other ways, too, particularly when it comes to a lot of those "back office" duties that are important but that also require a tremendous amount of time. In the state of California, an unlicensed assistant can: Make, conduct and even prepare a comparative market analysis for a particular property. It's just that only the licensed real estate agent can actually use it when conducting business, and they have to approve everything contained within the document first. Unlicensed assistants can let a prospective buyer into a property to inspect some or all of it, so long as this activity is necessary for the preparing of a report regarding future repairs that will be made. So an unlicensed agent can give a home inspector access to a property prior to a sale, for example. It's just that they cannot provide them with any supplementary information to actually complete that report - that will need to come from the agent directly. Unlicensed assistants are not only allowed to prepare advertising relating to a transaction for their employer - they can actually have input on the design elements of those materials, too. Once again, the agent with the license will need to approve everything before it is published and made available to the general public. Unlicensed assistants are also allowed to both prepare and complete documents before and during a transaction, so long as they do so under the supervision (and at the direction) of the licensee. Unlicensed assistants can also mail, deliver and pick up documents relating to a transaction - including obtaining signatures. While they are doing this, however, they are not allowed to discuss the content or relevance of those documents. An unlicensed agent can bring something to a client's house to have them sign it, but the conversation isn't allowed to get any more detailed than that. On the subject of documents, it should be noted that the guidelines state that unlicensed assistants are also able to thoroughly review the types of materials commonly coming into and going out of a real estate brokerage - so long as their employer has specifically directed them to do so. Overall, they can review documents for completeness or compliance, for example. Finally, unlicensed real estate agents are allowed to not only accept but also account for and provide a receipt for any trust funds received from a client or other party to a transaction. Of course, this means they can also communicate with those same individuals in connection with the transaction about topics like when reports or other information will be delivered. In the end, it's important to think of an unlicensed real estate assistant in the state of California as exactly what they are: an assistant in nearly every sense of the term. Under Section 10131 of the California Business and Professions Code, the state government has made it very clear which activities actually require a real estate broker license to execute. Nothing in these guidelines supersedes them in any way, shape or form. But that's okay, because an unlicensed assistant isn't supposed to replace the need for a real estate agent at all. Instead, it's supposed to support and empower them - helping to relieve as many of the administrative tasks from their plate as possible so that they can focus their attention on actually running their business and executing real estate transactions. To that end, an unlicensed assistant in the real estate industry really might be thought of as a paralegal in the legal profession. Paralegals are usually employed by lawyers to devote their attention to specialty tasks like case planning, development, management and others. They research legal topics and provide support for any tasks that don't require a law degree. They're not a replacement for an attorney, but then again they were never designed to be and that's not what is expected of them. An unlicensed real estate agent really does operate in much the same way, albeit via an entirely different field. Finally, it’s important to remember that the rules can change on what the state allows an unlicensed assistant to do so it’s important to check your state’s rules periodically to ensure that you are following the rules. These guidelines are intended to help not only real estate agents but also the members of the public that they've dedicated themselves to serving - which is ultimately the most important goal of all.
Getting started in the real estate business

These 9 Steps Will Help You Build an All-Star Real Estate Team

Real estate team breaking from team meeting

In the real estate world, building an effective real estate team is a growing trend. Rather than working independently, real estate professionals, and even our real estate students are starting to plan

In the real estate world, building an effective real estate team is a growing trend. Rather than working independently, real estate professionals, and even our real estate students are starting to plan ways to build teams of agents that work with them to make their business run. These teams have one leader normally known as a “rainmaker”, then a number of support staff underneath who make things happen. If you are considering the team approach to real estate, getting a team off the ground can be your biggest hurdle. Here are some tips for starting and growing an effective real estate team that will fuel your success. Step 1 – Self-Evaluation The first step in building a real estate team is your own personal self-evaluation as the potential team's future leader. What are your strengths and weaknesses? By pinpointing these, you can start building a team that will support your weaknesses and build on your strengths. Next, consider what you need out of your real estate team. Do you need more buyer agents so you can list more properties? Are you looking for a Transaction Coordinator to help you with the paperwork on your files? Do you need help with your marketing and advertising copy? The answers to these questions will help guide you as you build out your organization. Finally, prepare your systems. Before connecting with people for your real estate team, make sure you have a foundationally successful real estate business and know how to generate leads. One of the biggest things that potential recruits will want to know is whether or not you have a system in place to bring in leads for them to handle. Once you have a system in place, people will be more willing to buy into your vision. Step 2 –Choose Your Professionals Next, choose the professionals you need on your team. Your needs will vary depending on your goals and your skills and weaknesses. It will also vary depending on the structure of your team, whether you are looking to manage a team of sales professionals to support your efforts as an agent or are looking to lead a team of agents. Some common pieces to a well oiled real estate team include: Buyers agents Contractors Appraisers Attorney Accountant Inspectors Copywriter Marketer Make your list, and start looking for qualified individuals to fill those positions. Note that lots of these folks don’t necessarily need to be full-time and on your direct payroll. Starting out as a new agent, you’ll want to build out a list of vendors that you know and trust to do the job right for your client. Step 3 – Start Hiring Now you are ready to start looking for qualified people and bringing them on to your team. Be careful about the professionals you hire. Make sure they are ready to work in a team environment and have the skills you need.The first person to bring on board as you build your team might be a virtual assistant or transaction coordinator. Your virtual assistant will manage email and office work so you can focus on the client facing aspects of your business. Your TC should ensure that your files are compliant and that all parties are receiving and signing paperwork in a timely way. The nice thing about building out the administrative functions of your team first is that the virtual assistant can often be turned on and off as needed and the TC can be paid on an a per-file basis. Make sure you're finding people who are a good fit for your team. One way to determine this is through personality testing. Personality testing will tell you if the person you're interviewing is a good fit for a sales-based business. Look for positive people with a passion for real estate to add to your team. The personality testing can be critical in preventing turnover of your team. The innate personality of a buyer agent will be vastly different than someone in a dedicated administrative role. Step 4 – Delegate, but Stay Involved Once you have a team working well under you, start delegating responsibilities. However, make sure you stay actively involved. This is not the time to walk away from your real estate business. Instead, it's a time to jump in and lead by example. If you've hired well, you should be able to delegate responsibilities with confidence, while still taking an active role in the day-to-day operations of your real estate business. Step 5 – Keep Recruiting Even after your initial team is set, continue recruiting quality talent, especially talented agents. If you have proven sales systems in place with active lead generation they will be attracted to your team. Once you have them, make sure you have the right incentives to keep them invested in your team. Retention is just as important as recruiting, and you'll only retain quality people if your team provides them something of value. Remember it is far more expensive to hire a new person than to retain an existing one. Step 6 – Focus on Lead Generation So what could you bring to the table that would make qualified real estate agents want to be part of your team? For many real estate teams, the answer is qualified leads. Finding a source for leads and then offering those leads to the professionals you bring on to your team is a key factor to the success of any real estate team. Your source may be direct-mail campaigns, social media postings, or other online marketing, but find a lead generator and use it well. Step 7 – Take Care of Clients Make sure you have a system for your team that keeps clients comfortable while they list with you. You may delegate this to one particular agent or team member, or you may have a proven system in place that each agent follows with their delegated clients. Keeping clients satisfied throughout the sales process will make your team more effective and help with your team member retention. Step 8 – Keep Refining Your Processes As you get the freedom to step away from the direct sales of your business, use your new time to refine your sales process for your team. Constantly evaluate what is and isn’t working and make changes and adjustments accordingly. Check with your team members regularly to ensure they are using the systems you have put in place to run their part of the business. Keep lines of communication open to ensure everyone knows what their responsibilities are and what they can expect from you. Step 9 – Add Training as You Continue Building After you start your team and get it moving along successfully, you may wish to grow it. Before on-boarding new licensed real estate agents or other real estate professionals, make sure you have solid training in place. Teach your new recruits what you expect and how your business operates, so they can come on board as solid, productive team members. Soon, your process will replicate itself as your team, and your income, continue to grow. Real estate teams should allow you to make more sales and close more deals than you can do on your own. With these tips, you can build a successful team, retain the talent you recruit, and see your income continue to increase year after year. Love, Kartik
Tips on Commercial Real Estate

How Much Do Commercial Real Estate Agents Make?

Commercial real estate agent closing a sale

People considering signing up for real estate classes commonly ask the question “Can I do commercial real estate once I get my real estate license?” The answer to this may vary depending on your state.

People considering signing up for real estate classes commonly ask the question “Can I do commercial real estate once I get my real estate license?” The answer to this may vary depending on your state. In the case of California, our Department of Real Estate makes no distinction with regard to licensing commercial or residential real estate agents. The same license to sell a house would be the same license to sell a large building . While this is encouraging for the new licensee considering beginning a new career, it’s important to understand that there are different specialities as it relates to the world of commercial real estate. The five commercial real estate disciplines are office, retail, industrial, multifamily and raw land sales. With the exception of land, each of these areas have a couple of different ways to make money: Leasing and sales. While real estate commissions are negotiable in California, the typical percentage earned is 3-6 percent of the transaction value regardless of whether you are leasing or selling the underlying real estate. As an example - Let's start with a commercial lease. Imagine you are a commercial leasing agent and you have a dentist looking for 3,000 square feet of space in Los Angeles, and the rent is set at $3 per foot. She is likely going to be signing a lease for a five year term or 60 months. 60 months x $9,000 per month is a $540,000 lease value. This doesn't take into account annual rent increases that you'll likely be paid on also. Generally, representing this dentist would yield you a $16,200 commission. ($540,000 x 3% = $16,200) This is a handsome payday considering there's no escrow period, no appraisal, and there’s no home inspection. No request for repair or even a termite report. You sign the lease, generate an invoice and get paid. On commercial sales, the commissions can be even larger. Imagine a $6 million office building. You would generally get 3% of this. Your commission would be around $180,000. Not bad. Commercial real estate can be a lucrative career for someone seeking something a little different from the day to day life of selling houses. What's also nice about commercial real estate is that there are so many different disciplines. You can focus on selling shopping centers or office buildings, or even helping developers find land on which to build. Each one of these practice areas requires a different skill set and has unique vocabulary depending on what you are selling. For example, in industrial real estate the wiring and power capacity might be important. Do we have 3-phase power? In retail the co-tenancy would be a consideration. Who are the other retailers in the center and how can they help drive traffic to my store? Office and the other disciplines have their own unique considerations. When you get your real estate license in California, it doesn’t have to be about just selling houses. There are a lot of other career choices that are less competitive, but more lucrative than residential. If you are considering doing both it’s important to bear in mind that very few real estate companies do both well. The skillset, paperwork and databases to sell houses are actually different than those associated with selling commercial. That's why it's important to make sure that when you do get your real estate license in California, you are lined up with a brokerage that can set you up to succeed. Commercial real estate databases like LoopNet or CoStar can be quite expensive and most residential real estate companies don't have active subscriptions. Similarly, most commercial real estate companies don't have MLS access like a Century 21 or Keller Williams would. If you have any questions about getting your license or if I can help you get started please call me at 888 768 5285 or drop me a message. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

6 Steps to Winning a Real Estate Listing in 2020

Agent talking to clients during real estate listing appointment

A question I get frequently from first year real estate agents is “How should I prepare for a listing appointment?” A real listing appointment. Not your mom’s house or your best friend from college

A question I get frequently from first year real estate agents is “How should I prepare for a listing appointment?” A real listing appointment. Not your mom’s house or your best friend from college but a genuine listing appointment from someone you don’t really know. I wanted to put together a quick guide that will help you as you move through the process of pitching your first seller client! While this is not exhaustive, it should get you closer to a signature than just winging it. 1. Make sure that the person you are meeting with is the owner The first step to having a great listing presentation is to ensure that the person you're meeting with is in fact, the true owner of the property. As an agent, you don't want to be on the wrong side of real estate fraud. While you don't necessarily need to see a driver license on the first meeting, use common sense. If the person on title is a female, for example, and you're meeting with a male who says they're the representative of the owner, it's important to dig deep and ask additional questions. In that case, that person may have power of attorney over the recorded owner, but your title insurance company and escrow company will need those documents anyway so ask for them upfront. 2. Research liens on the home The second step is to call your preferred title insurance company and have them pull title on the home to examine liens against the property. This is a prudent second step for a lot of reasons. First, you want to make sure that the market value of the home is greater than any existing liens. If not, this could turn into a short sale, which would trigger an additional set of documents and an entirely different process. Additionally, a search of the title will reveal if there are any notices of default recorded on the property, which in many states will require a different purchase agreement. A title search is also important because it shows the owner that you were prepared for the listing appointment and are able to work with title to eliminate any liens that may be showing on the property in error. 3. Have a well researched CMA The main reason that most properties expire out is an improper pricing strategy. A CMA will examine three aspects of the market: 1.The active listings 2.The expired listings 3.The recently sold listings. Clearly the most important part of this research are the properties that have recently sold as they represent a willing buyer and a willing seller doing a deal with one another. However, the active properties are also important because it shows the seller what the competition in the area is. Finally, the expired listings indicate a warning as to where you should not be pricing the property. 4. Have your documents ready All documents should be ready for the listing at the time of the listing. You should bring any state required forms you need to take a listing as well as a listing contract itself. The worst thing in the world is to have the seller say that they are ready to list, and you not have the appropriate documents. Bring multiple copies of the listing contract with you incase you need to make notes or changes. 5. Leave your judgement at the door If the seller has experienced a loss in income or a layoff requiring them to sell the property, it's important to be empathetic to the needs of the seller and listen while working diligently to try to maximize the net proceeds to the seller. Understand what your unique selling proposition is, have confidence that you and your company can get the property sold. And don't forget to smile. =) 6. Handle objections professionally and with ease It's quite likely that you'll face some objections when making your presentation. Invariably, you may get questions about whether you'll “do it for less”, “price it higher”, or “how many years you've been in the business”. It's important to research as many of these potential objections as possible, and have scripted and truthful responses to the seller’s concerns. There are a ton of free resources online to help in this if your broker doesn’t provide enough training. There are YouTube videos, blogs, and articles that can help you wade through the sea of a dozen or so objections that are most common in our real estate business. Remember that proper prior planning can prevent poor performance and the more you prospect, role play, and rehearse the greater the likelihood of you taking every listing appointment that you go on. Remember you have to list to last! Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to Help Your Buyer Get Over the House That Got Away

For sale sign outside of a recently sold house

Generally speaking, helping a buyer purchase a home should be one of the most fun and exciting times ever. However, sometimes life has other plans for you and your client.. and they don't necessarily

Generally speaking, helping a buyer purchase a home should be one of the most fun and exciting times ever. However, sometimes life has other plans for you and your client.. and they don't necessarily line up with your own. Experienced agents have all been here - Imagine for a moment that you're helping your buyer shop for their dream home. You've done a tremendous amount of research and have put in significant time and effort into finding something that meets the needs of your client. You’ve written the strongest offer possible and the communication with the listing agent looks good. Things are finally starting to go your way... ... but you end up not getting your offer accepted. The sense of defeat you feel in that moment can be crushing, to say the least. But that DOESN'T mean your search for the perfect home should come to an end. As a buyer's agent, one of the most important things you can do in that moment involves helping the buyer get back on track so they can continue to shop and finally secure that home they've been waiting for. Getting to this point isn't necessarily difficult, but it DOES require you to keep a few key things in mind along the way. Let the Mistakes of the Past Inform the Decisions of the Future After getting outbid on a terrific home, it's natural for buyers to start to second guess nearly everything that led them to that point. Obviously, they don't want to make the same "mistakes" again in the future - regardless of what those mistakes happened to be. As a buyer's agent, part of your job is to instill confidence in your client to the point where they believe they won't fall into the same trap a second time. Of course, this involves taking a look back at what happened and helping them learn from the experience in the most positive way possible. If part of the reason why your buyer was outbid had to do with their insistence of lowballing, help them understand that buyers can often lose out on their dream home by engaging in exactly this type of behavior. Not only can a really low offer offend a seller - even unintentionally - but it can also make them less likely to negotiate upwards, even if your client is more than willing to do so. Let your client know that they should find out what type of situation they're entering BEFORE they make their bid. Don't be afraid to come right out and ask if there are other offers and where those offers stand. At the very least, this can help manage their expectations prior to engaging in another bidding war over a property. Encourage your buyer to consider things that go above and beyond a simple monetary offer. Let them know that they can write a letter to the seller, for example, outlining why they love the home and why it means so much to them. You'd be surprised by how much of a difference this can make when a seller is trying to decide between similar offers. Put in Backup Offers in the Future At the same time, you should also encourage your client to put in a backup offer on any home that they're serious about in the future. Even if a seller has indicated that they're going with someone else, this is still a great best practice to follow. You really never know exactly what is going on across the negotiating table. That "accepted offer" from another buyer could fall apart due to a myriad of different reasons. Maybe those buyers got cold feet, or they were unable to secure the type of financing they thought they could. In any event, let your client know that there are still ways to be the "first in line" if that current deal should happen to fall through. Have Them Believe Another “Dream Home” Is Out There But in the end, the most important thing you can do to help your buyer get over a house that they lost involves getting them to believe the simple truth that another "dream home" will absolutely come along. Don't forget that part of why they're working with an agent like you comes down to your negotiating skill. Not only do you have the knowledge from your real estate courses, you (or your company in the case of a newer agent) have been around the block more than a few times and at this point, you've likely seen it all. With the real estate market developing as it is the chances are high that you'll be able to find a similar home for your client to the one they lost. You'll probably be able to find one that's even better, provided that you're given enough time to do so. Indeed, that may very well be the most important piece of advice for this situation: tell your client that it's time to stop looking backwards and to return their attention to the future once again. Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

Why You Should Hire a Realtor to Help Sell Your House

Realtor shaking hands with a client

"Why do I need a Realtor, anyway? My house is beautiful and it should be easy to get the best price for my home. How hard can that really be?” Many people pondering selling their home ask themselves

"Why do I need a Realtor, anyway? My house is beautiful and it should be easy to get the best price for my home. How hard can that really be?” Many people pondering selling their home ask themselves some variation of those questions early in the process. On the one hand, it's natural to wonder why you need help during a process that seems fairly simple with the help of the Internet. But at the same time, selling a home is so much more than just another transaction. It can be a long, complicated and precise process that is unfortunately easy to "get wrong" - which is why partnering with a Realtor isn’t only a recommendation these days. For most people it's become a requirement for a lot of reasons that I wanted to outline below. Why Realtors Matter: Breaking Things Down 1. A Realtor’s Experience is Invaluable Maybe the most important reason to bring in a Realtor is that the process of successfully selling a home isn't just lengthy - it can also be inherently complicated. A Realtor brings with him or her a wealth of experience that you simply won't be able to match on your own. Think about all of the forms, reports, disclosures and other documents that you'll need to complete as a part of this process. Typically these number in the dozens - all of which are filled with reams of technical jargon that can be difficult to understand. Unless you're prepared to become a master in the field while also devoting as much of your attention as possible on getting the best deal for yourself, the chances are high that you may be looking at unfortunate delays (or worse - costly mistakes) if you get this part of the process “wrong." A Realtor, on the other hand, can help you avoid all of these issues so that you can focus on the big picture piece that matters most: the sale itself. Indeed, they're a partner in the best sense of the term - one that is every bit as vested in your own success as you are. 2. A Realtor Possesses Market Expertise Another one of the major reasons why working with a Realtor is a good idea is because they're true experts in the state of the market. Active real estate professionals study the market intently. Not just from behind a desk, but also in the field. They are out there each and every day looking at homes and properties just like yours. They really have their finger on the pulse of the market. An overpriced listing is one of the main reasons that property doesn’t sell. A solid Comparative Market Analysis done by an active Realtor can help ensure that your property is priced realistically and competitively. Everyone wants to get the best deal when selling their home, but everyone has a different definition of the term "best". By providing you with access to objective information rooted in the study of the local real estate market, a Realtor can make sure that everything about your deal proceeds properly. Note that oftentimes the peace-of-mind that comes with this alone is more than worth the decision for most people. 3. A Realtor Knows How to Market At the end of the day, one of the most important reasons why consumers hire a Realtor has to do with getting your property in front of as many eyes as possible, all in the name of building anticipation and excitement through all marketing channels. One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people make when trying to sell a home on their own involves the assumption that properties sell based largely on advertising alone. "All I have to do is take some incredible pictures and create listing on all of the popular sites like Redfin and Zillow", they tell themselves. "At that point, my house will pretty much sell itself!” Wrong. A lot of people don't realize that a significant portion of real estate sales actually come from the contacts that a Realtor brings with them. This includes relationships with past clients who may be in the market for a home again, renters looking to buy, and their own personal network of friends, family members and other associates. Because of this, a Realtor can expose your property to a wider audience than ever - something that you would again be hard-pressed to replicate on your own. 4. A Realtor Brings Negotiating Power to the Table But overall, maybe the biggest advantage of working with a Realtor ties directly into the negotiation power and knowledge that they've spent their careers honing and perfecting. All of this is to say that yes - it is entirely possible in 2020 to sell your home on your own. Some people even find success in it. But at the same time... is this actually something you want to do alone, especially if you've never done it before? When the stakes are this high, would you really want to turn down the opportunity to bring someone into the conversation who has been in this situation many times in the past? In the vast majority of all situations, the answers to those questions are "no" - which is why partnering with a Realtor you trust is and will always be a good idea. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

Breaking Down How Real Estate Agents Get Paid

Real estate agent looking at commission check

As a potential real estate agent it helps to understand how you will likely get paid for your time and expertise. I wanted to examine how agents commonly earn a living, how everything is split, and what's

As a potential real estate agent it helps to understand how you will likely get paid for your time and expertise. I wanted to examine how agents commonly earn a living, how everything is split, and what's risks you take on as a real estate agent in hopes of a payday. The Common Standard: Commissions The most accepted way for real estate agents to be paid is to charge the seller a commission which is then split among the buyer's and the seller's agent. This amount is typically between four and six percent of the sale price. Like most sale transactions, there are exceptions to this rule. Raw land sales, for example, sometimes can be as much as ten percent of the total sale price. On the other end of the spectrum, there are agents and companies that will work for a flat fee that is substantially less than on a percentage basis. Compensation programs like this are generally more common in seller markets where there are far more buyers than listings for sale. How Everything Is Split There are a few caveats to note about this seemingly simple arithmetic. The agent does not get to keep all the commission because they must work for a broker in California who will certainly take some portion of the total commission. When it comes to how brokers split the money with their agents, a lot of it depends on the agent's experience. A brand-new agent may agree to work for a much smaller percentage as a means of getting their foot in the door. A seasoned agent may take all of their commission and pay their broker a fee to rent their desk in the office. When starting out in our real estate industry, you can expect to keep between 50 and 70 percent of the commission starting out and this should increase with sales volume and experience. The Risks of the Agent It's not always easy to see the risks that the agent assumes if you aren't behind the scenes. Not only do agents have to pay the MLS fees as well as the costs of their insurance and dues, but you’re also taking some of the responsibility for the sale. For example, let's say the agent spends six months trying to sell a home. They've found an interested party, but the buyers haven't quite formalized their offer. If the seller gets cold feet at the last minute, the real estate agent will typically not be paid. (If the seller had received a formal offer and then refused though, then the broker may have still been entitled to their commission.) These risks explain why some agents seek salaried positions in property management for example rather than be beholden to the commission. These jobs do exist although they are on the rare side. The vast majority of real estate agents are commission-only for the duration of their careers. Agents do more than just showcase a property in its best light. The right agent can spot red flags before they turn into legal hassles, counsel sellers about the quality of the offers, and give buyers a better idea of when to jump at a deal. Their efforts are rewarded when the sale goes through, according to the terms of the listing agreement. Hope this helps explain a little about the world of the agent. If you’re interested in taking real estate classes, please give us a call at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

4 Easy Tips to Hosting a Successful Open House

Open house sign in front of a home for sale

For most real estate agents, a cornerstone of their business is conducting successful open houses. Because of this, I wanted to write a quick article about how to have a successful one. Open houses

For most real estate agents, a cornerstone of their business is conducting successful open houses. Because of this, I wanted to write a quick article about how to have a successful one. Open houses are a good way to get business because it's a marketing tool that is completely free. An open house is akin to a popup retail store without actually having to pay rent. Think about it - You’re able to set up shop and have potential buyers and sellers meet you, give you their information and walk through a property that you or your company are representing. It's a great way to get business without spending any money. There are a few things that we can do to maximize our efforts conducting open houses and making sure that we have a positive return on our time. Tip 1: Make sure you are choosing the right property to hold open This means the property should be easy to find as well as be priced properly. When I say easy to find, I mean that a great listing at the top of a mountain might be a good listing to have, but it might not be such a great listing to do an open house on. If it takes two GPS systems and a satellite to find the open houses, it's probably not the one that's going to get a lot of traffic. Having the property priced right is also important. The more fairly a property is priced, the more interest it will garner and the more traffic you're likely to have at your open house. Tip 2: Check out other homes in the area It's pretty likely that on a sunny weekend your house is going to have a ton of competition from other agents looking to attract buyers. For this reason, it's important to understand what the competition is. If a buyer comes into your open house and asks you about the house around the corner, an easy way to establish your credibility as a real estate agent is to be familiar with all the homes in the area. For example, it would be nice to say something like, "Yes. I've seen that property. It's a four bedroom, three bathroom for $800,000. Ours is also a four bedroom, three bathroom for $780,000 and has an upgraded kitchen." This is a great way to show a buyer that you know the market well and that your product offering is superior to any alternative. Tip 3: Make sure you market the open house properly This means lots of signs, lots of exposure on social media, inputting it in the MLS and advertising it on other websites. You may even want to consider dropping flyers on the doorsteps of some of the neighbors, inviting them to an open house. Consider sending mail to downstream markets that might have buyers for the house you're holding open. For example, if you're holding a house open for $800,000, it would be great to send a postcard a couple of weeks before your open house to a $600,000 neighborhood. The marketing piece will inquire whether those $600,000 owners might want to list their house and upgrade to your listing. Remember that the more traffic you have, the more lead opportunities you are going to get to pick up other buyers and listings for the open house and even other homes. Tip 4: Follow up strong on walk in leads The last step to a productive open house comes after the open house is completed. You'll want to follow up strong on all the leads that walk through your open house that day. This does not mean calling them two days later or even the next day. As an agent, if I hold an open house from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, at 4:00 PM I'll go take down all my signs, come back in the home, make sure it's clean and presentable. Next, I'll leave a handwritten note to the seller of the house I just held open. It might say something like, "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Seller, thank you for sneaking away for a few hours so I could conduct the open house. We had 22 people come through and I'm going to follow up with them aggressively. Thank you again for sneaking away for a few hours." Put yourself in the shoes of the seller - I would want to know how much traffic walked through my home and an update from the agent will help accomplish that. Before I leave the open house and lock up, I’ll make phone calls to all 22 of those people, thanking them for coming and asking them for any feedback they might have on the property. The reason I don't want to wait until the next day is that I know that my competitors are making those same calls later. I want to be top of mind and I want to be the first person those buyers think of when considering buying or selling a home. Following up quickly and aggressively is something that will help achieve that desired outcome. Remember that holding open house is still a great way to meet potential buyers and sellers while exposing your listing to potential clients. Open houses also please the seller of the home because it indicates marketing activity. The internet will never replace face-to-face contact and holding open house is a great way to capitalize on a time honored tradition. Best of all, it's free. Good luck with your open houses. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

A Look Inside: A Day in the Life of a Real Estate Agent

To do list written in notebook

Prepare for the day The first step in a great day as a Realtor is to prepare for the day itself. This includes going over your schedule, verifying and confirming appointments you may have for the

Prepare for the day The first step in a great day as a Realtor is to prepare for the day itself. This includes going over your schedule, verifying and confirming appointments you may have for the day, and studying market statistics. The act of studying the market data can be especially helpful for a newer agent as they have time to check the Multiple Listing Service to see what new properties have come on the market, examine properties that have gone under contract, as well as properties that have closed escrow in their marketplace. This 30-60 minutes of quiet time will set the agent up for business success. Make sure you role play As the morning progresses, the second thing that a real estate agent should do is role play. Role playing scripts and dialogues can be extremely helpful for the newer agent, especially because most buyers and sellers have a consistent set of objections that they will give the agent, and understanding how to respond to these objections smoothly and confidently can help increase sales. For example, if you're calling for-sale-by-owners, and the seller doesn't want to pay you a 6% commission, or is hesitant to set the appointment, there are several things that an experienced salesperson could say to increase their chances of success. Consistent role play will help delivery as well as syntax to ensure greater success. Ensure that you are prospecting The third thing, once role playing has been done, is to actually prospect. Daily prospecting must be the cornerstone of the salesperson’s day. Finding potential buyers and sellers is the lifeline of your business. As you continue in your career, you will come to realize that income for December actually has to do with how committed you were in October. An October client leads to a November escrow which leads to a December closing. Understanding the longterm nature of our business means that prospecting must be the cornerstone of your day. High-performing real estate agents typically will spend a minimum of two hours on this activity. Lead follow up The fourth thing that should be in the schedule of every high-producing real estate agent is lead follow-up. Simply put, lead follow-up is, as the name implies, following up on the leads as a result of your prospecting. The worst thing that an agent can do is spend a lot of time, energy, and effort into prospecting only to cultivate leads that never get called back or followed up with. The nature of the real estate business is such that the sales cycle can take days, weeks, or even months. Consistently following up with your leads via email, phone, and text message will increase the chance of those prospects ultimately turning into clients and closings. Schedule time to go on appointments The goal of lead follow-up, of course, leads us to our fifth activity - going on appointments. Time should be in your schedule every day for face-to-face meetings with clients. This could be listing appointments or showing appointments for buyers who want to look at homes. Sticking to a strict schedule for showing can help you take control of your day. Many newer real estate agents will show property or meet with the client within minutes of them asking. This will lead to burnout because if you're always jumping without any direction, it's easy to get discouraged if deals ultimately don't happen. Having respect for your own time will translate into clients having respect for your time also, so put that appointment block in your calendar, and make sure to follow it as strictly as possible. Examine the prior day Finally, at the end of each day, 15 to 20 minutes should be spent reviewing the activities of the day prior and setting up for the next day. Ask yourself questions like, "How productive was I today? How much time did I spend actually and actively looking for business? Are there things that I could have done better today? How can I avoid making the same mistakes tomorrow?" At the end of the day, productive real estate agents ask these questions so they can improve daily. Incremental improvement on a day-to-day basis will help you ultimately achieve success in the long-term. Hope this helps. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Smart Home Automation Trends for 2020

Grey google home mini on shelf

If you were looking for a single statistic that underlined why smart home and home automation technology has become so popular over the last few years, let it be the following: One recent study revealed

If you were looking for a single statistic that underlined why smart home and home automation technology has become so popular over the last few years, let it be the following: One recent study revealed that the average amount of money a person can save from using smart home products is about $98.30 per month, adding up to roughly $1,179.60 per year. Equipment like smart thermostats, connected sensors and "intelligent" security systems are more than just a "modest convenience" for many people. They're a true investment in every sense of the term - and one that will essentially pay for itself over time with the right application. But as is true with so many other areas of technology, smart home and home automation tech is evolving all the time. That's why there are a few important trends in this area that all real estate professionals should be paying close attention to in 2020 and beyond. The Top Home Automation Tech Trends to Pay Attention To 1. Standardization One of the most critical home automation trends for 2020 is also one that, for many people, couldn't have come along at a better time: standardization. A major pain point for so many real estate professionals and home builders trying to use home automation as a marketing tool always involved the fact that there were so many platforms to choose from. Ecosystems from Amazon, Google and even Apple all exist - but rarely do they work together in the way someone would want. Limiting users to one ecosystem also limits device compatibility, while trying to put together a system with a mishmash of ecosystems could easily lead to security vulnerabilities, among other issues. Thankfully, the major technology players have banded together to create a set of standards designed to make smart homes easier to embrace and more secure at the same time - which is something that professionals will absolutely want to keep a close eye on moving forward. 2. Improvements in Smart Home AI Another essential trend to watch out for involves the continued evolution of the relationship between smart home technology, home automation and artificial intelligence. A lot of smart home devices are already leveraging AI in impressive ways, like with smart thermostats that "learn" your daily usage habits and automatically make adjustments to regulate a home's temperature without the intervention of the actual homeowner. 2020 may very well be the year that this concept shifts to the next level, when things like facial recognition software driven by AI and machine learning allow security and surveillance systems to become more proactive. Rather than simply telling you "there's someone at the door," your smart doorbell may soon be able to tell you that "John Smith is at the door," thus creating an environment where both threat detection and regular alerts are more personalized than ever. Even going beyond that, smart devices powered by AI will be able to handle more complicated instructions than their current counterparts. This means that the average smart home user will be able to allow their devices to handle even more complex tasks than they can right now - thus freeing up more of their time and attention to focus on those activities that truly need them and that they're more invested in. This will likely drive a major boost in adoption in smart home tech across the board, too. The Impact of Smart Homes on the Future of Real Estate While it’s easy to be impressed by these home automation trends it's equally important to consider the impact they will have on both home building and the real estate industry moving forward. Reports indicate that 43% of all smart home technology users are currently between the ages of 18 and 34-years old. As those that fall into this demographic mature financially and begin looking for houses, home automation is naturally going to become more of a priority - making it more of a selling point for first-time home buyers too. Indeed, smart home tech is already having a major impact on people who fall outside of this category, too. There are reports that as many as 81% of people who already use some type of smart home tech said that they'd be more likely to purchase a home that already came with some level of connected technology that they could then add onto in the future. You're already seeing the inclusion of smart home and Internet of Things-connected devices included in a lot of home listings in markets both large and small across the country. This is one trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon. All of this is to say that smart home equipment is more than just a novelty or another passing fad. It's already changed the way that many people think about what a home should include - to the point where it will impact the way real estate professionals think about how to market a property. All this is to say that if you're a real estate professional who isn't currently paying attention to the hottest trends in smart home and home automation technology, now would be an excellent time to start. Love, Kartik
Realtor Branding Tips

Essential Real Estate Agent Branding Strategies You Should Not Ignore

Close up of an apple computer ready to create logo

It has been said that branding first started in ancient Egypt as herders and livestock owners branded their cattle as a means to distinguish their property from another's. This way, if cattle was stolen,

It has been said that branding first started in ancient Egypt as herders and livestock owners branded their cattle as a means to distinguish their property from another's. This way, if cattle was stolen, whoever saw the branded symbol could figure out who the actual owner was. In modern times, branding is a way of marketing and communicating one company, or in the case of real estate, one real estate agent from another. Proper branding results in brand awareness, which is essentially the ability of a customer to understand what products belong to a given company and what products belong to another. The goal of effective branding is to have what marketers call “top of mind” awareness. Essentially, this happens when the customer thinks of a specific need and a brand will immediately come to mind in a given product category. A good example of branding are the following associations: Bleach = Clorox. Face tissue, Kleenex. Coffee=-Starbucks. These companies have done an excellent and deliberate job of branding and creating top of mind awareness with their consumer. How does this relate to the individual real estate agent? One of the first steps to branding for a successful Realtor is defining the market area that they are attempting to be an expert in. Become an Expert in a Defined Market Area Consider web and print assets that specifically are tailored to these farm areas. For example, if you are focused on a specific condo community in your town, consider registering some domain names that have the name of that condo complex in them and frequent updates as to the market in that building or area will help solidify your brand as an expert in that neighborhood. Example: If the condo complex is the “Jolly Arms Condos” the agent might register the URL www.jollyarmscondos.com. Create a Strong Logo As it relates to branding, a strong logo is critical. If you work for a national real estate company like Coldwell Banker or Keller Williams, you may want to check with their brand compliance guidelines before executing your strategy. Generally if you have colors or a marketing scheme that fits the area you're branding in, this can help give you top of mind awareness. Remember to choose your colors wisely in your logo. We've all walked through a department store and it's obvious that professional branders and marketers use certain colors to elicit certain emotions. Red and yellow tend to pop more than more muted colors. Invest in Offline and Online Marketing Also, remember to use both online and offline methods of branding and advertising. Open house signs, yard signs, and door knocking, along with direct mail, are all strategies to employ to effectively brand you as the local expert in that area. There is a need for differentiation. Remember, there are a lot of real estate agents out there. Over one million people have membership with the National Association of Realtors once they obtain their real estate license. Consumers have a lot of choices and it's important to be able to differentiate your strategy and marketing from your competitors. Is a Niche Market Right for You? Consider adopting a specific niche market. Do you focus on retail tenant representation? Do you focus on short sales or bank owned properties? Do you focus on condos or luxury marketing? Being able to brand yourself as an expert in any of these niches is useful to building your brand. Above All Else, Stay Consistent Finally, remember that consistency is more important than creativity. Branding is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if your marketing isn't perfect, it's important to remember that consistent branding and marketing will help keep you top of mind in the eyes of the consumer. If you're going to do a blog, make sure your blog comes out with some regularity. If you're going to record YouTube videos, make sure that you have a predefined content calendar and schedule. This will help the public see you as a consistent and reliable source of information when they are considering buying and selling a piece of real estate. Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

5 Steps to Selling a House for First-Time Sellers

Modern living room staged for open house

Maybe you’re considering getting your real estate license because it’s time to sell your house. If you are grappling with the prospect of selling a property for the first time the process can seem

Maybe you’re considering getting your real estate license because it’s time to sell your house. If you are grappling with the prospect of selling a property for the first time the process can seem downright overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. With a bit of information and the right support, you can sell your home for a fair deal with minimal hassles. Here are some best practices to keep in mind. Step 1: Choosing The Right Real Estate Agent When I get calls from folks that consider selling their house, one of the first questions most people ask is about real estate agents. While there is no law that says you have to use a real estate agent, there are some advantages and costs to consider. One of the most basic advantages to using a real estate agent is that they have access to the MLS, a system that compiles all data about the property and gets it in front of other agents and their buyers. Being on the MLS is a huge win because it means more people are likely to see your home. Another key benefit of working with an agent is that their service is all-inclusive. That means they will handle the marketing, negotiations, and contracts for you. While there is no legal minimum or maximum commission in California, most real estate agents are going to charge between 4 and 7 percent of the home’s sale price to get your deal done. Typically, that amount is divided to cover both the buyer’s and the seller’s real estate agent fees. This is paid by the seller. Do you really need an agent? The answer to this question really depends on what you want. Here are a few things to keep in mind: Do you have the tools and funds to market your home on your own? If you’re in a competitive market, you may benefit from an agent’s ability to negotiate terms and potentially increase what you get for your home. You’ll need to meet with prospective buyers, show them your home, and deal with push back over the property. Some buyers may not wish to work without their real estate agent. That means, if you want to sell to them, you’ll probably need to cover the costs of their agent. Agents have access to the legal contracts and tools necessary for this transaction. You may need to hire an attorney to help you with the process if you don’t use an agent. Since most people don’t want to do the above, real estate agents are engaged. Step 2: Pricing Your Home The next step is to price your home properly. This is another task that a knowledgable real estate agent can help with. Clearly, the value of your home is dependent on what buyers will pay for it. It is not dependent on what you’ve put into it or how much you think it is worth. There are websites like Zillow which provide you with an estimate for your home. These websites use data from recent sales in your area to determine the value. Yet, they don’t come into your home to create an accurate assessment of the true worth they only use the broad data available. These site can be a good starting point for knowing what homes like yours are selling for but not the complete picture. Your agent, if you choose to use one, will help you by creating a comparative market analysis. This provides insight into your home’s true attributes and features along with data on homes like yours that have sold recently. Step 3: Listing Your House with Confidence The next step in the process is to get your home listed on the market to be sold. As noted, you can do this with your real estate agent but before you list, it’s important to ensure your home is sell-ready. Here are a few things to keep in mind: When to Sell You can sell your home at any time during the year. The spring and summer markets tend to have more buyers, which can mean faster sales and, in some cases, better pricing. However, in the winter, there’s less competition, which can help your home stand out in a desirable market. Prepare Your Home For Sale Take the time to walk around your home and create a list of what needs to be updated, repaired, or cleaned. Work to remove as much clutter or extra furniture from your home as possible. This will help to make your home look larger, organized, and clean, making it attractive to buyers. Tackle any types of problems with the home that could lessen the value or throw red flags during a home inspection. Photos and Videos Also important is to capture beautiful, professional photos to showcase your home. That’s critical in today’s home buying process. Homebuyers shop online first. If you don’t have photos, they’ll wonder why. If the photos are not professional, that may create the wrong first impression. Professional videos provide clear information to prospective buyers. That means you’re not wasting your time on buyers who won’t fit your home’s specs. Step 4: Managing Offers and Making Decisions Ultimately, you do not have to sell your home for anything less than you want, but most of the time, there will be negotiations in the process. When someone comes to your home and places an offer on it, that is an opportunity for you to either agree to the offer or to make changes to it. You can also reject the offer outright. It tends to be best to counter their offer with one that fits your needs. Key things to consider include: The sale price Who is paying what closing costs Any stated repairs or conditions you’re willing or not willing to make The timeline for closing on the home Home inspection and repair requests After you come to an agreement with a prospective buyer, a home inspection will likely be ordered by and paid for by the buyer. Nearly all contracts will be contingent (or dependent) on the home being inspected by a professional. This is a time for the buyer to walk around the home with the inspector to learn about any concerns. They will likely examine the major systems in your home, such as the roof, HVAC, and appliances. If there are concerns, the home buyer may ask you to make adjustments to the contract or to make the repairs necessary. You don’t have to do this, but that may mean your home goes back on the market if the buyer pulls out during their contingency period. Step 5: Handling the Legal Aspects Once you and the buyer are ready to move forward, your real estate agent will work with you throughout the escrow process. There are multiple steps involved, including waiting for the buyer’s lender to obtain an appraisal and formally approve the loan and and to close on it. This can take some time, usually 30-60 days. Once the home is ready to close, you’ll need to work with the title and escrow companies to sign the deed and other requirements. This will involve transferring money to you from the buyer or the lender to complete the sale. I could literally write a 50 page guide on selling real estate, but I wanted to keep this somewhat short. If you are obtaining your real estate license in the hopes of selling your own property and saving the commission this is totally possible. Let us know how we can help. Love, Kartik
Real Estate Exam Tips

7 Study Tips for Passing Your Real Estate Exam

Student studying for her real estate license exam

Doing well on your real estate exam is the first step to getting your career going. If you are like some of our students, this can be a daunting thing especially if you’ve been out of school for a while.

Doing well on your real estate exam is the first step to getting your career going. If you are like some of our students, this can be a daunting thing especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. It doesn’t have to be. What’s important is that you understand the information necessary to pass the real estate exam. To help relieve some frustration and improve your chances of success, consider these study tips. 1. Review What’s on the Exam Take a few minutes to review what’s on the actual real estate exam. If you were a student of ours, this is outlined for you in your Principles book. Merely having a basic understanding of what’s on the exam can calm a lot of fears for students. The state publishes a percentage breakdown of topics that are tested and our real estate exam preparation website is tailored so the questions are in the same ratio that the government exam is. This way there are no surprises on test day. 2. Create Digital or Physical Notes for Key Concepts As you are reviewing your notes from your pre-license coursework, consider creating notecards or flashcards with key concepts. Write them in a question format with the answer on the back. There are flashcard apps you can use as well if you want to have access to studying on your phone. Also, it’s been proven that the act of physically writing things down can go a long way to help retain information. 3. Read Your Notes If you haven’t done so yet, read through all of the materials you’ve been assigned. Create notes on topics that relate to your real estate exam. It’s a good idea to create notes for topics you are unsure about or very specific elements such as vocabulary terms or other more broad real estate concepts. As you do, remember how important it is to retain this information. It’s not just about the exam, but it is applicable for day-to-day work as an agent. For example, if there’s a topic that is complex to you, look for a real-life example of how this would apply to your career or the work you do. That way, you’ll better understand what to expect. 4. Don’t Reach Out to Practicing Agents I would avoid having long drawn out conversations with other real estate agents. Most of the time, they will say things like “Don’t worry what’s on the real estate exam, you won’t use any of that stuff anyway.” The constant repetition of how academic and impractical the concepts tested are can actually discourage some of our students from properly preparing and studying. While it is true that the real estate exam contains a broad set of topics, all of which are not applicable to every deal, it’s still important to stay focused on the goal of actually passing the real estate exam. If you can’t help yourself, make sure you talk to agents that support you in making key decisions and learning how to navigate complex topics. These agents can give you insight into real-life applications of the material you’re learning. They can also put your mind at ease. 5. Take Several Practice Real Estate Exams It’s important to have state-specific real estate license practice exams available to you. You can find them on our website. Luckily for you, our system is modern and up to date to ensure they include the most recent updates to the real estate test itself. Focusing on our real estate practice exams can point out areas where you need to focus a bit more on your studies. Refrain from taking them one after another. Instead, use them as you study to see areas you should focus on going forward. 6. Understand How To Take Tests While the material you need to pass the real estate license exam is critically important to know, it’s also helpful to have some test-taking skills, especially if you haven’t dealt with high-pressure tests recently. Consider these strategies: Read every word slowly in every question. Sometimes, you’ll miss words such as “if” or “all” – and that can change the answer. Don’t rush through the test. Take your time to read the data and analyze it from a strategic view. Breathe through your test. If you find yourself overwhelmed or under too much pressure, that’s when you know you need to close your eyes, breathe in deeply, and calm your heart rate. Make sure you sleep well in the week leading up to your exam. Don’t binge the night before as that can limit your cognitive capacity later on. Arrive on time for your test. Get a good idea of the layout of the area. You want to feel comfortable. If you don’t know the answer to a question right away, skip it. You can go back to it later. Don’t put too much time into a single question. Don’t rush through the exam. Make sure you take your time and focus. If you’re really struggling with test-taking itself, do a few practice exams in a formal environment, such as in a library or office space. This can help give you some peace of mind. 7. Stay Positive and Upbeat Passing your real estate exam is a step towards starting a new career. It is a lot of work – and that can seem like a big mountain to climb. However, focus on the big picture. This is a career that you are going to love. The more hands-on experience you have, the better your outcome will be. Practicing for your real estate exam can be a very eye-opening experience. This is what you’ll soon be an expert in, helping others to achieve their goals of property ownership. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

3 Steps to Creating a Budget for New Real Estate Agents

First year real estate agent calculating budget with spreadsheet and calculator

One of the most difficult skills for new Realtors to learn is budgeting. Along with good time management, the two skills are probably the core requirements for first-year success in this challenging profession.

One of the most difficult skills for new Realtors to learn is budgeting. Along with good time management, the two skills are probably the core requirements for first-year success in this challenging profession. What does it take to create a realistic budget for a new agent? In one word, the answer is "planning." Approach the task in much the same way as a family might make an annual or monthly budget, with research and tracking. Here are the three steps to building a budget that can work for any new agent and is adaptable as time passes.  Track and Analyze Carefully log every penny you spend for two weeks running and then apply some honest analysis to what you come up with. Logging of all the money you spend will reveal where there are "leaks" in your current monetary habits and will also show what expenses are absolute necessities. The effectiveness of this step, the only one that takes place before making a pro-forma budget, is based on the ancient adage, "Know thyself." Until you know what you spend, when you spend it, and why, there's no way to make a realistic budget. Build a Budget List every monthly expense and use a worst-case scenario to estimate average monthly income. If there's more income than expenses, you're still not off the hook. Be certain to go through each expense item and determine whether it can be reduced or cut out entirely. Are you spending too much on eating out, clothing, gifts? If so, snip those expenses down to levels that make sense. After working with all the data in a spreadsheet and getting a feel for what an "average" month looks like, write out a separate document called "Pro-forma Monthly Budget," and save it to your desktop. For the next two months, allow yourself to fine-tune the pro-forma budget with new revelations or data your forgot on the first go-round. At the end of 90 days, you should have a pretty accurate and useful monthly budget that can serve as a guideline for at least the first year of your practice. In several months, your skills and network will have changed enough to require another round of budget-making. Remember, budgets help you identify ways to cut costs and increase profits, and those are good things. The budget is your friend, not an entity to be feared. Plan for Emergencies Real estate agents can take a tip from personal budgeting theory: it's essential to have an emergency fund in place that can cover at least three months' of expenses. Every smart family has a fund like this and so should every real estate professional. Especially in a field where income is notoriously volatile, an emergency fund will help to smooth out the natural income vicissitudes. Final Thoughts There's no reason to reinvent the wheel, so do some online research about typical real estate agent budgets to get ideas about common expense categories that might not occur to you as a new agent. Be careful, however, not to assume anyone else's categories or specific dollar amounts will apply to you. Always do the hard work of tracking and analyzing before you begin to create your own personal budget. Remember, the real estate business is a marathon not a sprint. Being able to weather the storm is more important than ever now. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

5 Tips for Managing Client Expectations

Expectation spelled out using scrabble pieces

The process of buying a home can be complex. What’s even more complex is helping a person to make the best decision for their family. For most people, this is the single largest investment they’ll

The process of buying a home can be complex. What’s even more complex is helping a person to make the best decision for their family. For most people, this is the single largest investment they’ll make during their lifetime. It’s a huge financial commitment. As a real estate agent, it’s your job to help them through this process, ensuring they not only buy a home, but they buy one that’s right for their needs. It comes down to managing client expectations. From the start of your relationship with a client, it’s essential to create a clear understanding of what their needs are. Managing their expectations isn’t just about closing a deal. It often includes providing complete insight and guidance. Here are some tips to do that. 1. Be Honest, Every Step of the Way It is quite common for people to make decisions based on perceived thoughts or opinions. Sometimes, your client will be downright wrong. Other times, you need to share with them the other side of the coin. When you meet with your client, be honest with them from the start. Tell them you’re going to point out the good and bad, and always provide authentic information. 2. Don’t Overpromise When a client walks in the door with too little money, no mortgage pre-approval, and little in the way of a down payment, don’t promise them a home. This is particularly important with first-time home buyers. You’ll do your best, but they need to be realistic about what their money can buy. This is a hard talk to have, because you may feel as though you’ve failed to meet their needs. However, if you’re frank with them and show them data, they’ll understand how they need to adjust their budget. 3. Create Clear Goals To manage your client’s expectations, you need to know what those are. This often means sitting down and going over what their needs are and what they would like in addition to that. You also want them to know what you’re going to do for them, including the marketing, negotiations, and research you’ll put into the work. Then, outline what you need from them – accurate information, fast responses, and flexibility throughout the process. 4. Ensure Near-Constant Communication You don’t have to break away from an important meeting with your family to answer client calls every time, but be there for them. In the day and age of text messaging, it’s rather easy to do this. You want them to know you’re available to discuss. Talk about the best ways to communicate and how often is right for them and for you. 5. Provide Them with Reports Whether you are listing their home or helping them buy a home, you want them to know what you’re doing to support the process. Be sure to provide them with data on the market on a weekly basis. Offer insight into what’s taking up your time on their project and communicate what you’re doing to change things up as needed. Managing client expectations improves outcomes while also ensuring a more steady and smooth process is possible. You can’t please everyone every time but it’s important to understand that your ability to manage the client through the process is critical to long-term success. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

4 Ways a Realtor Can Connect with Past Clients

Realtor calling an old client to see how things are going

For real estate agents, past clients represent a wealth of new business in years to come if the relationship is nourished and kept up after the sale. The problem for some agents is that they lose touch

For real estate agents, past clients represent a wealth of new business in years to come if the relationship is nourished and kept up after the sale. The problem for some agents is that they lose touch with past clients after doing business with them, but there are a few reasons you should devote extra time to making sure you remain connected. In generations past, people often bought their home and stayed there for their entire lives, sometimes even leaving the property to following generations. Today, people are far more mobile than ever before. For real estate agents, there are two big reasons to maintain contact with past clients: They May Need Your Services in the Future. People rarely stay in the same home for the duration of their lives and many people also invest in other properties. Return business is great because you build an ongoing relationship of trust and friendship. It’s much easier to keep a current client happy than to try and obtain a new one. Happy Clients Recommend You to Others. Even for clients who will rarely, if ever, need your services again, it's important that you maintain a positive experience and connection. These clients will often have friends and acquaintances who are looking to purchase or sell homes and that can mean a great pipeline of referral business for you. We even see this with our real estate school. The great majority of our new students have been referred to us by a former one. 4 Ways to Rekindle a Connection with Past Clients If you haven't previously made it a point to market to past clients, you're not alone. Many agents lose or drop contact with one-time clients over the course of months or years since a sale. The good news is that it's never too late to reconnect. Here are a few ways you can reach out to old clients to build an ongoing relationship. Start By Going Through Your Past Client Lists. The first step to rebuild these relationships is setting some time aside to go through your past sales. Review notes and old emails on clients to give yourself a quick refresher on who they are and their lifestyle. As an agent, you deal with a lot of people throughout the day, so taking the time to review all the past information you have can be a great start. Remember, though, if a good deal of time has passed, that client has likely experienced some major life changes and may be in a different place financially so tread lightly. Send a Personalized Note. A great way to reconnect is by simply being honest. Send them a personal note. This can be through email or physical mail. If you do send a letter by mail, hand addressing it can be great because people are less inclined to see envelopes that are handwritten as sales material. The note can be a simple re-introduction, maybe an apology for not being in touch, and a personal note about something in their life. You can also include your personal social media accounts and contact information and let them know you'd like to stay in touch. Acknowledge an Anniversary. If sending a note out of the blue sounds a bit awkward to you, it's always great to go with the old stand by of sending a card or note for an occasion. This might be the anniversary of the purchase of their home or their birthday. Find Them on Social Media. Social media can often be the best way to resume contact with old clients. People often accept friend requests from a wide variety of contacts. Take some time to hunt for your past clients on your favorite platforms and use those channels to reconnect. You might include a personal note right when you reach out or once they've accepted your request to connect. Ways to Maintain an Ongoing Connection There are a lot of ways to reconnect with old clients, but maintaining that relationship is the real goal. Here are a few ways that you can cultivate an ongoing relationship with these contacts so that you stay in their thoughts if they ever need an agent for future real estate dealings. Send a Thank You for Referrals. If a past client referred you to someone, make sure you acknowledge that. You can send them a quick thank you note to show your gratitude for the trust and recommendation. Plan a Coffee or Small Gathering. Small events can be a great way to maintain a connection. You can host a small thank you event for past clients or offer a seminar on some aspect of property ownership. There are a million different ways to plan an event that make it worthwhile for contacts to attend and it gives you the opportunity to build an in person relationship. If your office has a large training room consider using that as free space to host your event. Send Them Updates On Property Sales in Their Neighborhood. Many people really appreciate knowing when a home goes on the market in their area. They may also be interested in knowing when one sold, so they can introduce themselves to new neighbors. Keep Them In Your Future Marketing Lists. Whether you send out email campaigns or routinely do newsletters to give your prospects worthwhile information, it's a great touch to keep past clients in the funnel on these efforts.  Past clients can represent a great market for future sales and you've already cultivated their goodwill by doing a great job on the property needs they've had so far. If you've let a lot of time lapse between contact, it's still worth your time to try to reconnect when possible. If you are considering taking online real estate classes call us at 888 768 5285 and we can help you get enrolled Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

8 Real Estate Careers Beyond Selling Houses

Person looking at three arrows painted on ground pointing to different paths

When most people think about working in real estate, they immediately think of selling houses. While residential sales are the most common occupation for those with a real estate license, it’s far from

When most people think about working in real estate, they immediately think of selling houses. While residential sales are the most common occupation for those with a real estate license, it’s far from the only option. In fact, there’s a lot you can do within real estate that has nothing to do with the conventional sale of houses. Here are some of the real estate jobs available for those that don’t want to just sell houses. Commercial Real Estate If you like sales but don’t love the idea of selling homes to residents, you can still find the career of your dreams within real estate. Instead of selling homes, you’ll sell and lease office space and property to businesses. But the differences between commercial and residential real estate sales don’t end there. In commercial real estate, agents must be knowledgeable about the sectors in which they work and provide valuable analysis to potential buyers. Since newcomers to an area might not know much about the region’s demographics or traffic levels, it’s the commercial real estate agent’s job to fill them in and help find the best location or tenant for a given area. Because of this added analysis, it can be a longer and more difficult process to make a sale in the commercial realm than in the residential space, but the rewards can be greater -- a commercial Realtor can make a great living. Real Estate Broker/Owner Although it’s commonly believed that a real estate license is the same across the board, most states actually have levels of real estate licensure. And if you’re not content to act as a conventional real estate agent -- or if you’ve been an agent and want to try something else -- there’s still a way for you to get involved in real estate without being an agent. Becoming a real estate broker requires a healthy dose of ambition, but there could be serious benefits down the road. As a broker, you’ll have your own firm where real estate agents will work for you. It’s a way to keep your hands in a lucrative business while also allowing you to start your own business, applying your knowledge and expertise in an industry for which there’s always demand. Property Manager Earning a license also opens up the door to becoming a real estate property manager. Property managers oversee buildings for owners. A common role for a property manager that’s responsible for the units within an apartment complex (or a series of homes owned by a person or company) and is charged with fixing repairs, collecting rent and finding new tenants when existing tenants move out. This type of job is for someone who loves real estate and likes accounting, but doesn’t want to become a Realtor. Property managers are generally paid based on the gross rents collected; property managers can also receive leasing commissions for screening and finalizing deals with tenants. Real Estate Assistant The life of a real estate agent isn’t for everyone. Not everyone wants to travel to open houses and to meet with clients. However, for those that simply want to work in real estate while remaining in one location, there’s a way to make it happen -- and you may not even need a real estate license to do it. A real estate assistant provides support for agents and brokers, including answering phones, posting listings and preparing paperwork. These tasks help the agents tremendously as they manage their workflow. It’s also a good introduction for those who are unfamiliar with the inner workings of real estate. A real estate assistant may realize that they want to be an agent after all, and they can continue to work as an assistant while they take real estate license courses. Financial Analyst Real estate agents and brokers are often too busy with their everyday duties to take note of emerging trends in the marketplace. That’s where financial analysts come in. Analysts look at real estate data and attempt to predict where real estate is going, particularly in the local area. Financial analysts that work in real estate are also tasked with finding attractive investment opportunities so that the company can properly allocate its resources. Being a real estate financial analyst means being based largely in an office; it also doesn’t require a real estate license. Most large commercial real estate companies will have analysts on their team. Real Estate Appraiser If you like numbers, but don’t want to be tied to a desk all day, real estate appraisal might be the career for you. You don’t need to go to real estate license school but you will need to obtain a separate appraisal license. Once you do that, you’re able to determine accurate property values for the houses you examine, based on the home’s characteristics and comparable sales data. Appraisers are used when houses are sold or refinanced. Inspector Outside of the agent, the bank and the buyer, an inspector is the most important part of any real estate transaction. Inspectors visit properties before they’re sold and look for potential issues that would not only impact the sale, but would cause problems for the buyers down the road. Inspectors must be highly knowledgeable in all areas regarding houses; they don’t need a real estate license, but if you’re interested in being a real estate inspector, you’ll need to understand the inspector requirements of your state. Loan Officer Real estate loan officers don’t actually issue loans. Instead, they’re the intermediary between the bank and the buyer. Loan officers help buyers to get approved for financing, point out any issues that inhibit a buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage and recommend products based on the unique situation of each home buyer. To become a loan officer, you don’t necessarily need a real estate license. Instead, you’ll have to take a 20-hour pre-licensure class that covers the laws and legalities around real estate lending. After that, you only need to pass the NMLS SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator Test and you’re ready to start working as a real estate loan officer. There are plenty of cogs in the real estate machine. If any of these fails to function properly, the entire operation fails. Even if you don’t want to be a Realtor or obtain a real estate license, there’s a career option for you in our great business. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Real Estate Is About People, Personalities, and Emotions

Real estate agents shaking hands of clients and smiling

Real estate is most often thought of as being a numbers business. This is probably because it’s an intricate business that includes heavy regulations, lots of red tape, and major financial intricacies.

Real estate is most often thought of as being a numbers business. This is probably because it’s an intricate business that includes heavy regulations, lots of red tape, and major financial intricacies. For many people, their home purchase represents their largest investment. With that in mind, agents sometimes concentrate on the business and legal sides of real estate.  While you certainly don't want to overlook the hard and fast figures, real estate agents need to remember that the core of our industry is people. Unlike other investments, the home you buy is less about the money as it is about emotion. If you need a statistic to back up that premise, look no further than reporting suggesting that staging a home makes it sell faster. Of course, real estate agents know that the psychology of staging a home is all about helping prospective buyers imagine the life they would have once they purchased their home. It's not about the dollars. It's about the quality of life. How to Approach Real Estate in a People Centric Way Whether you're a new real estate school student, experienced agent or investor in properties, it's important that you understand that the end client is looking for more than a great financial investment. That's not to say that buyers and renters aren't looking at the bottom line at all. People have budgets they need to adhere to. But when they do make a final decision on where they're going to live, they're going to choose the best home that meets their lifestyle and emotional goals within a given price range. For a real estate agent, this means meeting your clients' needs in a proactive way. You have to recognize that they're not only investing in a property, they're planning the kind of life they want to have. The neighborhood and community will play into their decision almost as much as the actual structure of the home. This is why so many real estate agents use drones and spend a great deal of time learning as much as possible about the neighborhoods. These extra insights help you find the right community and neighborhood for your specific buyer. A couple with a young family may be more interested in a neighborhood with a lot of family friendly activities and amenities. On the other hand, a single professional might be more concerned with culture, nightlife, and easy access to travel. Finding the right home for a buyer is about finding the right atmosphere, too. A great agent will listen to the types of things their buyer is saying and ask pointed questions about the type of life they enjoy. A buyer might not know all the things they're looking for until they see it, but the right agent will have a great way of getting to know the buyer and showing them all the amenities in a property and area that they will love and appreciate.  It's Not Only About the Property, It's Also About the Experience Real estate is a bit of a juggling act. You have to know the ins and outs of contracts and loan documentation. You need to know the neighborhoods and market pricing. You need to be up to date on the latest construction and property trends. But the biggest piece of the puzzle is your ability to connect with your buyer. The home buyer's experience should be a primary goal for any agent. This includes listening to what they're looking for and having the knowledge and foresight to find the best properties that meet their ideal home needs. A great agent knows how important this purchase is for the buyer. A home is unlike any other purchase because, at the end of the day, you're investing in the place that you will raise your family and make your memories. An agent needs to place customer service as the highest priority. In any business, you want to be receptive to the client and always follow through on the things you agree to - like making sure you remember meetings and scheduled showings. In the real estate industry, you may also need to do a bit more hand holding with some clients.  It can't be overstated how important this purchase is to the client. They may want to view a property more times than average or have extra questions about the property history. Ideally, as an agent, it isn't just about getting the client to purchase. It's making sure that they are happy with their home for years to come. The big reason I wanted to write this blog post is because I want all our real estate license students to realize that the experience of buying a property is almost as important as the property itself. Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

How to Be the Best Agent for First-Time Home Buyers

Real estate agents showing house to first time home buyers

First-time home buyers need all the help they can get. That's not a derogatory statement; it's the absolute truth. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Making a decision to spend several hundred thousand

First-time home buyers need all the help they can get. That's not a derogatory statement; it's the absolute truth. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Making a decision to spend several hundred thousand dollars is not one that should be taken lightly. Because of this, some real estate professionals specialize in working with new buyers and have come to understand the unique challenges they face.  Whether first-time home buyers are your specialty or not, at some point in your career you're bound to deal with newer buyers. There are even continuing education real estate classes you can take to learn the intricacies of working with this unique group of buyers. If you find yourself with a client who has never purchased a home before, keep the following points in mind so you can do your very best for them from day-one until after closing: House-hunting: You should help the buyer find the right location, type of home and price range of homes that fit their budget. This means taking into consideration what they want in terms of school district, nearby social amenities, prices, and much more. What comes naturally to you, as a real estate agent, is a brand-new universe to first-time buyers. Help them hunt for the ideal home. Pre-approval: Explain the key difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval to your clients. The former is not nearly as important as the latter. Pre-approval will let them know what they can afford, and it will guide you as you begin to show them homes that fit their budget. It's equally important that you advise the buyers not to do anything that will change their financial situation between now and closing. They should understand that now is not a good time to buy a car or apply for other loans. Doing so can really jeopardize their chances of being approved as their debt-to-income ratio will be skewed. Inspections: Help your new buyers choose a competent inspector. Remember, they haven't a clue about any of these issues. In a state like California this is extra important because there is no licensing or regulatory oversight of home inspectors in our state. Perhaps they know about having to get an inspection, but you can guide them to a professional with relevant experience on the kinds of homes they're looking at. It is also essential that you attend the home inspection. Your presence will give vital first-hand knowledge about any issues that come up. Plus, you can walk your buyers through the process of how to use inspection report data to negotiate their position if needed. This is one area where first-time home buyers often lose their way by hiring so-so inspectors and failing to use the report to tweak their offer. Negotiation: Experienced real estate professionals know how to get the upper hand in a negotiation. First-time buyers often believe that the asking price is carved in stone. You need to show them how to make an offer based on what the house is really worth based on objective criteria. Many buyers report that when they purchased their first home, the real estate agent helped them get a significantly lower price than what the seller was originally asking. Use the tactics you learned in real estate school along with your real-world experience to get the best possible deal for your buyers. Communication: You, the agent, are solely responsible for keeping the lines of communication open among the parties. All the parties look to you as the quarterback because you are essentially speaking for the very people who will ultimately come up with the funds to make the deal happen. Don't let anything slip through the cracks. Touch base with everyone on regularly. Being a reliable communicator is one of the things you sign up for when you get a real estate license. Loose ends: Follow up on all the loose ends that crop up just before and after closing, and stay in touch with your buyers after they move in. As an agent, you know there are lots of little things that can slow things down on closing day. Do they have all the ID they'll need for the notarizations, for example? Remember, the buyers will think of you as a friend and mentor long after the deal is done. Maintaining this relationship can mean referrals and lasting relationships with people you enjoy spending time with. Think of it as long-term networking. After you get a real estate license and work for a few years in the industry, you'll learn that some home buyers are much more experienced than others. People setting out to purchase their very first home need all the encouragement and support you can give them. Agents learn a lot from their real estate course about different kinds of buyers, but it takes "on the ground" experience to fully comprehend the many ways you can put your knowledge to work for special first-time ones. Call us at 888 768 5285 for more info on how to get a real estate license. Love, Kartik
Real Estate Marketing Tips

The Matterport 3D Camera is the Future of Virtual Home Tours

Matterport camera

If you were searching for a home in the 1950s, you essentially had to do so "the old-fashioned way" - by driving around to available properties in your area and seeing as many of them as you possibly could.

If you were searching for a home in the 1950s, you essentially had to do so "the old-fashioned way" - by driving around to available properties in your area and seeing as many of them as you possibly could. Not only was this a time-consuming process for most people, but it was also inherently ineffective. There are only so many hours in a day and you needed to be very judicious about how you spent them while on the hunt. Then, in the early 1990s, something incredible happened: the World Wide Web was born. It's not a surprise that the prevalence of the Internet in the homes of average people (as opposed to college campuses and businesses) is directly related to the rise of real estate photography. Around that time, real estate agents realized that by including color photos on websites and listings for properties, they could generate more interest - and more leads - than ever before. Home buyers could benefit too, as now they could not only see properties in an adequate amount of detail without ever actually getting in the car, they could suddenly see homes for sale in other cities or even states. This gave everyone involved more options than ever and thus, one of the most important real estate trends of the last quarter century was born. Over the years, this technology has continued to advance and the visual side of the digital experience has become more crucial than ever. Now, it's not uncommon to see real estate agents buying drones so that they can capture high definition videos of a particular property from the air. All of this is in service of an essential goal for any agent: helping someone get a sense of what it might actually be like to live in a property through any means necessary. But as is true in so many other industries, technology in real estate has never really sat still for long. Advancements like the Matterport camera have not only changed the way that agents and buyers alike think about what a listing can be... they've also essentially changed the touring process itself, both for the better and for all-time. Enter: The Matterport Camera Image Source via matterport.com Originally founded in 2011, Matterport is a company that offers premium camera solutions designed to capture, store and share three dimensional images and models. Based out of Sunnyvale, California, the company's founders say that they started their business to support any customer that relies on integrated 3D models to operate their own organizations - which is a large part of the reason why the platform has been so successful particularly in the real estate industry. How Does the Matterport Camera Work? The actual Matterport devices themselves can be paired with any compatible camera, or a smartphone or other mobile devices like an iPhone. Though the specifics will obviously vary depending on the model you're talking about, in general the process goes like this: First, you use your camera and Matterport to capture HDR panoramic imagery. What makes this solution different from a standard camera, however, is that sophisticated depth information of the environment is captured at the same time. The Matterport platform synthesizes all of that spatial data and visual imagery, essentially combining it in a way that creates a dimensionally accurate 3D digital "twin" of the environment in question. The platform provides further tools that real estate agents can use to generate photo galleries and even virtual "walk-throughs" of a space. The Matterport SDK can be used to integrate this content into an agent's own website or branded applications, thus making it possible to share with anyone, at any time, and from any device. In other words, it's a way to transform standard 2D images into 3D "twins" that are spatially accurate and engaging in a way that regular photos can never be. What Are the Benefits of the Matterport 3D Camera? At the very least, it's a way to allow the photos of a house or other environment to "come alive," offering an experience that is far more interactive than ever before. Matterport images naturally have a bigger sense of dimension to them by design, meaning that people can get a feel for how big a room is or how tall the ceilings are without ever physically stepping foot in that place. Over the last decade, savvy real estate agents have started to use it to make those early stages of buying a home not only more efficient for their customers, but more fun and exciting as well. But as is true for so many other examples of state-of-the-art technology, a lot of people viewed Matterport as little more than a "fun addition" to the buying process up to this point. Yes, it's helpful to get a better sense of the way a home "feels" from the comfort of your computer chair. But for most people, it was a way to quickly disqualify a few homes from their tour list so that they can spend more time in those that remain when they scheduled their in-person tours. It was an asset to real estate professionals, to be sure - but few looked at it as something that was really going to "seal the deal" when it came to actually making a sale. Transitioning to 3D Tours During the Coronavirus Pandemic Until, of course, the Coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020. Just because roughly 60% of Americans are currently under stay-at-home orders does NOT mean those people don't need to buy a new house. A lot of people were likely already in the process of searching when the COVID-19 situation first hit, and others knew that this summer would be the one when they finally moved into the home of their dreams. Being required to stay in your home for an indefinite period of time has certainly hampered those efforts, but luckily the wonders of modern technology have been able to step up and lend a helping hand the same way they always do. According to one recent study, Zillow in particular said that it saw a massive 191% increase in the creation of 3D home tours in one week at the end of March, 2020, when compared with the average number that were created in February. Likewise, real estate brokerage Redfin indicated that it saw a 494% increase in requests for virtual walk-throughs and agent-led video home tours, up dramatically since the beginning of March. Truly, this is something that couldn't have come along at a better time - though even those at Matterport would have had no way of knowing that just a year ago. For so many areas in the country, people have no idea how long current social distancing requirements will stay in place. Even once stay-at-home orders are lifted and things begin to get "back to normal," it'll be difficult to find people willing to walk through what is essentially a public space for a home tour with an in-person agent for the foreseeable future. Thanks to devices like Matterport, however, they don't have to. Virtual tours like those offered from Matterport are a perfect opportunity to show prospective clients a finished, furnished interior in a way that still keeps them as active and as engaged in the buying process as ever, all in a way that seems like it was tailor made for the current environment that we're currently living in. Tomorrow's Technology, Available Today In the end, it was already clear that the Matterport camera (or at the very least, something like it) was going to be the future of the real estate industry as we knew it. It's just that thanks to Coronavirus, few people likely could have predicted that the "future" would have arrived quite as quickly as it did. Even on a basic level, Matterport tours bring with them a host of unique advantages for real estate professionals that can't be ignored. First off, they save a tremendous amount of time because customers can see a property on their laptops, phones and other devices with an incredible sense of immersion. They can instantly get a feel for what it would be like to live there without physically seeing it, thus preventing the need for agents to field constant phone calls and allowing them to focus on other aspects of their business that demand their attention. They're also an incredible opportunity for real estate agents to cut costs, as they no longer have to spend countless hours driving back and forth to meet potential clients only to have them quickly realize that the property in question just isn't for them. But in an age when it will be difficult to get people to feel comfortable with actually walking into a home for quite some time, Matterport tours and other 3D options are a perfect way to keep the real estate industry moving forward as efficiently and as strongly as it can. It's also something that is going to continue to get even more popular as the technology at the heart of it continues to advance. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Is Buying a Foreclosure Still a Good Idea? We Break Down the Pros and Cons

Foreclosure for sale sign on front lawn of house

Many people who are in the market for a home consider purchasing a foreclosure for various reasons. The two most common motivating factors include getting an inexpensive place to live and purchasing so-called

Many people who are in the market for a home consider purchasing a foreclosure for various reasons. The two most common motivating factors include getting an inexpensive place to live and purchasing so-called "investment properties" that can be renovated and sold for a nice profit. There's nothing inherently wrong with these concepts, and a good number of buyers do indeed find major bargains. But like everything else in the world of real estate, there are pros and cons to purchasing a house that is in foreclosure. The best way to approach the question is to look at what it means for a property to be categorized as "foreclosed," and what the most common advantages and disadvantages are when it comes to buying foreclosed properties. Learning how to invest in real estate can be an important tool for any consumer. What is a Foreclosure? In the broadest terms, a property becomes a foreclosure when the original owners can no longer make the payments and the bank takes ownership and possession of the home. At that point, buyers aren't dealing with the former owners of the house. They're buying directly from the bank (different than a short sale discussed below). Banks don't like being in the home-selling business, so they're often anxious to unload whatever houses they are holding in inventory. There are lots of reasons a home can go into foreclosure, but the inability of the original owners to honor the terms of the original note is the most common scenario.  What are the Main Advantages of Buying a Foreclosure? Foreclosures can be attractive buys for a number of reasons: Low price: The most common advantage for buyers is a price that could be lower than market value. In some cases, banks are willing to accept offers that are less than you would pay if the home were being sold by its original owners. As far as banks are concerned, the high level goal of selling a home is to recoup their investment. If they can do that, and if there aren't several other buyers bidding the price up, then they're usually glad to get the asset off their books and into your possession through a sale. Prices on foreclosures can be lower than market value. Title can still be clear: If you are buying an REO from a real estate broker and there is a standard escrow you can often get title insurance on it guaranteeing that the title is free of clouds. Financing is virtually the same: In many cases, you can still use FHA, VA or conventional financing options to purchase a foreclosure. The only difference is that you're submitting your bid to a bank rather than a person. Expect the bank to make a counter-offer if they aren't happy with your first bid. Investment opportunities: If you don't plan to live in the house and have the funds for upgrading or repairing it, then a foreclosure can be a smart way to invest in a potentially profitable piece of real estate. Some people have slowly built up a small portfolio of homes for sale by acquiring low-cost foreclosures and having them repaired. What are the Disadvantages of Buying a Foreclosed Home? There's a downside to buying foreclosed homes. Here are common disadvantages: Closing can take a long time: Depending on the reason the home went into foreclosure, it might take you several months to close on the property after you decide to buy it. If you're in a hurry, or need to use the house as your main residence, time may not be on your side. This is more true with a short sale. A short sale is different from a bank-owned foreclosure because the seller is not the lender in a short sale. The reason that short sales can take a longer amount of time to go through is because in a short sale, the seller needs approval from their lender to sell the property for less than the amount owed on the home. This third-party approval can take time to process. Condition is usually "as-is": This is the main disadvantage of buying a foreclosed home. The condition is often quite bad and you have to do your best to figure out how much it will cost to bring it up to par. Generally banks selling foreclosures are exempt from providing a buyer with many of the disclosures that you would otherwise get from the prior owner. That means a thorough inspection at the very least. Next, you'll need to hire one or more contractors to give you estimates for repair work. Perhaps the roof needs to be replaced or there are plumbing problems. You'll need to be approved and have good credit: You need to check with your lender and see if you can get approved for financing on a foreclosure. That typically means you'll need at least "good" credit and perhaps much better than good. Like any real estate deal, do not venture into the foreclosure market until you get a go-ahead from your own lender. There's a reason it's still on the market: Foreclosed properties that have been up for bids for a may have "hidden problems." Think of it this way: why have so many other potential buyers passed on the chance to buy the house? By far, the most common reason is the condition and the potential cost to repair it. The Big Picture The key point to keep in mind is that buying a foreclosed property can be either a very good or very bad financial move. You have to perform your own due diligence and find out what the pros and cons of a specific property are. Are extensive repairs needed? Do you have the funds to bring the house up to a high standard of quality and sell it for a profit, or live in it comfortably? Will your lender approve your application to purchase a foreclosed property? Are you ready to have the home inspected and take care of the necessary repairs? Are there unknown facts about why the property has been on the market, with no buyers, for x number of days? Be sure to do a thorough analysis and try to get answers to all your questions. One thing that can be of great help is working with a Realtor who specializes in foreclosures. That way, you'll have the added advantage of expert advice every step of the way. What's the bottom line on buying foreclosures? If you take your time, work with a professional and do plenty of research, it's possible to find good deals. But never approach the process if you're in a rush, know nothing about the real estate market or are expecting to guarantee yourself a quick profit. If you are interested in learning more about the real estate market or becoming a real estate agent so you can invest on your own, call us at 888-768-5285. Love, Kartik
Generating Real Estate Leads

How to Create a Real Estate Referral System that Actually Works

Female real estate agent talking to a referral client on the phone

Referrals are perhaps the most powerful tool you have for building your real estate career. While you can market heavily online and locally, there is nothing more powerful and meaningful than having an

Referrals are perhaps the most powerful tool you have for building your real estate career. While you can market heavily online and locally, there is nothing more powerful and meaningful than having an existing client recommend you to their friends and family. Consumers trust other consumers in every business. The question is, how do you encourage your clients, then, to recommend your services to others? Be the Type of Person People Will Want to Recommend The first step in getting referrals is the most challenging. You have to go above and beyond, exceed expectations, and deliver more than what the client expects. That’s a lot to ask for, of course, but it is what helps people to remember you and want to tell the world about you and what you did for them. At the very heart of this, you should provide excellent service to your clients: ⦁    Respond to them as soon as possible. ⦁    Find solutions to their concerns. ⦁    Work outside of the normal business hours if they need you to. ⦁    If they are worried about the cost of a repair on a home, set up a quote for them. ⦁    Provide recommendations for service providers they may need within their budget. There are many simple things you can do to address the needs of your client. Most importantly, listen to them. See what their goals or concerns are and provide solutions. Ask for the Recommendation When a transaction is successful, it is always important for you to thank your customers. Yet, that is not enough. Take a few minutes and talk about how important they are to you. Ask that if they have friends or family planning to buy or sell that they take the time to recommend you. You can also ask for your satisfied clients to also share a review of your services online. While real estate agents may find this to be a bit awkward, most consumers are more than willing to do so when they are happy with the service they received. Send them an email with a link to streamline it. Don’t be shy :) - Link them to your Yelp or other review pages. Build Relationships in the Community Whether through the local Chamber of Commerce, city council, religious organizations, or professional associations, the more connections you make, the more opportunities you create for referrals. The key is to get to know people who work or live within your ideal area. When you got your real estate license, you knew the value of developing networks – it is a key component of learning to market your services. Now, work to build those relationships on an ongoing basis. You don’t necessarily have to donate money to create these opportunities or spend a lot of money on the process. Instead, focus on just getting to know people. Give people the opportunity to say to their friends, “I know a really good Realtor…” Provide Follow-Up Service When the home sells or the buyer moves into their home, your job is not done yet. While officially it may be, this is the perfect time to follow-up with the buyer or seller to get more insight and clarity. Perhaps a month later, send them a note. Provide a card with a few recommendations of local restaurants. You can even reach out to those restaurants and small businesses to request a coupon you can offer. You can also just send a bouquet of flowers. If you want to create more of a personal relationship, connect with your clients with a formal email or even a lunch appointment. Ask them what they thought of the process. What could you have done better? Learn more about what their expectations and needs are going forward. Provide a few business cards, so they can recommend you to their friends. Keep in Contact with Leads – Even Those That Don’t Buy Some of the best referrals come months – even a year – after a client has approached you about the prospect of buying or selling a home. This is a big decision for most people. As a result, they need to be able to think about and work out the details of the transaction before they commit to the process. Be sure to have your new inquiries provide an email so you can send them information about current market conditions, new opportunities that come up, or other services and offers that may help. Emails sent consistently and over a period of time, allow you to remain fresh in the minds of your would-be clients. When it is time for them to do their deal they are more likely to call you. Give People Something to Remember You By Another fantastic way to keep your image and name in front of people is by giving branded material away. Whether it is a water bottle they can use for years with your logo on it or a t-shirt, the goal is to keep your brand in front of them long term. Imagine the client that buys a home from you having a branded hoodie from you – perhaps you gave it to them as a thank you gift. They wear it often. They receive questions about it and can tell their friends and family all about your business as a result. This is a fantastic way to get your clients to keep talking about you long after they purchase a home. Ready to Get Started? When you become a Realtor, value every relationship you create. Whether it is in meeting friends of friends or connecting with clients that call your office, you need to build a connection. When you really do connect with these leads, you create long-lasting opportunities for them to remember you and the services you offer. People love to share good things about those they know. You want to be one of the people they talk about in a positive manner. If you are interested in learning more about a career in real estate and how to get a real estate license, call us at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

Why Mentoring is Important in Real Estate Sales

Real estate mentor showing mentee something on laptop

The truth is that becoming a real estate agent is a lot easier than becoming a successful one. Taking real estate classes online and passing the real estate exam is the easy part. After you get your

The truth is that becoming a real estate agent is a lot easier than becoming a successful one. Taking real estate classes online and passing the real estate exam is the easy part. After you get your real estate license, the next step is to get connected with a brokerage and jump into production as quickly as you can. One way that newer Realtors accelerate their chances of making it in the business is by getting paired up with a mentor. There are many reasons why mentors work and can bend the learning curve for a newer agent. I wanted to share a few of these so you know that you aren’t going to be thrown to the wolves in most real estate offices. You’ll have help in the form of a mentor. Mentors Increase Your Chances of Actually Staying in the Business Ask any big broker and they will tell you that the biggest burden they face in their business isn’t actually getting sued by an angry client. It’s actually recruitment and retention. The burnout rate for newer agents is so high that most companies have a stated goal of hiring 5-10 new agents per month because so many new agents don’t end up making it. This in turn means that the broker has to put resources into recruitment leaving them less time to train their newer sales staff. It’s a vicious cycle. A great mentor can give 1:1 advice to a mentee and help them work through concerns which helps retain great salespeople. By keeping agent turnover low, the broker can build a strong network of experienced and qualified agents rather than dealing with the constant task of recruiting newer agents to replace the ones that leave. Time Savings for The Broker Imagine large real estate brokerages. I define a “large” real estate company as one with at least 100 agents. There is really no effective way that one man or woman can be there to answer questions, coach and train a staff that large and do it consistently. For this reason, a well thought out mentorship program is an easy way to save the broker time and hassle. By leveraging mentors, newer agents with questions can look to their mentor for help as opposed to hunting down an already stretched-too-thin broker/owner. This frees the broker up to only answer those high-level questions that stump even the best of mentors. Additionally, mentors also play a vital role in reducing the “on-the-job” training necessary for newer agents working on their first escrow. In effect, the mentor can act as a ‘project-based’ sounding board for help on a deal-by-deal basis. This will allow the broker to invest more time working on higher level training rather than putting out deal specific fires. Mentors Offer Encouragement and Act as a Cheerleader Great mentors should help us see those things that we would not otherwise recognize. For newer agents this means that their mentor is able to realize what you are capable of achieving and will put you on the track to realize your potential. This is especially true in the real estate business where there are several ups and downs in the course of a day and that every deal is on life support at some point in the escrow process. Helping a newer agent manage their emotions and keep their eye on the finish line is a critical aspect of the business. A great mentor can give a boost to the confidence that a newer agent needs. Mentors Have Experience That They Can Pass On Every veteran real estate agent has had a buyer buy from someone else or a seller who didn’t give them the listing. Understanding how to navigate these emotional ups and downs is critical. A mentor who is transparent about their experience has likely been where you are, and has made the same mistakes you might have made or are about to make. A good mentor will share their own mistakes, so they aren’t repeated by a newer agent. Before you get a real estate mentor, I’m guessing that you need to sign up for online real estate classes. Please call me at 888 768 5285 and I would be happy to discuss your career and help you get started in our great business of listing and selling real estate. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

3 Things That Productive Real Estate Agents Understand

Real estate agent drinking coffee to stay productive during day

Whether you are a brand-new real estate agent trying to launch a career or are a seasoned agent looking to increase production I wanted to write a quick article for you. The below is a list of some of

Whether you are a brand-new real estate agent trying to launch a career or are a seasoned agent looking to increase production I wanted to write a quick article for you. The below is a list of some of the common traits I have observed in successful real estate agents. Whether you are considering enrolling in a real estate class or are about to take a crash course to prepare for the real estate license exam the below list should prove useful 1. Manage Your Energy Level Being able to run at a high level for a sustained period is critical to your success as a Realtor. It isn’t enough to just say “Work smarter and not harder.” You have to do both. Managing your energy level throughout the day is critical so you can work as hard as possible and continue to push. The reason that this is so important is because many real estate agents and other outside salespeople tend to eat poorly, work long hours and lack consistent exercise. The highest producing real estate people consciously try and escape this trap. How do they do this? A consistent eating schedule of things that (for the most part) fuel their energy long-term - meaning plenty of vegetables, fruit and water. This also means a consistent program of vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes a day on a ritualistic basis. 2. Focus on Improving One Area at A Time There is a famous proverb that says “If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither.” The best businesspeople attack and focus on one target at a time, reach it and move to the next goal. The secret is to cut up each goal into bite sized pieces that you can accomplish in short bursts so that you can rapidly move on to reaching the next one. For example, if your goal is to have a better listing presentation, you might cut the entire presentation into 1/3 pieces. The first third might be the verbal presentation itself. The second third might be the physical presentation and other collateral material. The final step might be objection handling practice. The best agents don’t move on to tweaking their physical presentation until their verbal presentation is right. Breaking the broad goal of “I want to have a better listing presentation” into pieces like this will result in the broader goal being achieved but in a shorter period of time. 3. Start with Baby Steps, Then Accelerate It’s an interesting thing when I talk to newer real estate agents about their goals. I will often ask students why they want to get into real estate and what they plan on getting out of the course and their new career. Often they will say things like “I want to be rich!” Or “I want to make $250,000 my first year!” I never want to crush someone’s dream or tell them that the thing they seem to want so badly isn’t possible. I think back to when I was a young 20 year old starting out in the business and if someone told me that my goals were unrealistic I would have dismissed them as being too negative and pessimistic. With that being said, setting goals just for the sake of sounding overly ambitious can be dangerous and not useful. The best businesspeople set rational and attainable goals with specific deadlines. In the context of real estate sales this process might involve initially calculating how much you need to live on a monthly basis. Next, determine your average sales price in your area and the average commission per deal. Finally, ask yourself how many deals you need to do to achieve that income amount. Example: Average sales price = $600,000 Average commission = 2.5% Average commission= $15,000 My expenses = $7,000 per month Needed income = $84,000 per year I need to sell 6 homes per year to survive. My goal = 6 homes per year Once you have proven that doing 6 deals a year is possible, you can then set loftier goals. Remember that being great doesn’t happen by accident and a process must be followed. I would encourage you at this early stage of your real estate career to adopt habits and set goals that give you the greatest chance of success in a highly competitive industry. Love, Kartik
Generating Real Estate Leads

How a Real Estate Agent Can Turn Renters into Home Buyers

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First time homebuyers are a fulfilling market for the real estate agent. You're helping people move from spending money on rent that they'll never recoup to investing that same money into a property they

First time homebuyers are a fulfilling market for the real estate agent. You're helping people move from spending money on rent that they'll never recoup to investing that same money into a property they actually own. This is a huge leap for most people and, as their agent, you get to help them find a starter home, or even their dream house. All of this is empowering and inspirational. The problem is that many agents find it difficult to convert renters into buyers. People often rent because they don't feel financially stable enough to own a home. There may be a plethora of obstacles in their way, from salary to down payment to a lifestyle that means more mobility.  The reality is that many people can afford to buy and most would agree that buying would be beneficial for them financially. As their real estate agent, your goal is to educate potential buyers - But first you have to find them. What Demographics Are Included in the First Time Home Buying Market? There are different segments of first-time home buyers. Often real estate agents zone in on the ones who have already expressed interested in buying a home. This is an easier demographic to market to because they're already looking for your services. You don't need to educate them on why buying could be beneficial for them because they've already come to that conclusion. The second hidden demographic are renters who haven't considered buying yet. Renters are often thought of as folks who haven't yet saved enough money to buy. That's not the whole of this demographic, though. There are those who aren’t in a position to buy right away, for certain. But every demographic is accounted for here for various reasons. Some prefer the mobility that renting allows as they are able to move more frequently with less hassle. Some simply prefer the location and amenities available in rental space in their locations. First time home buyers may not be what you would think without researching, as well. For instance, single women make up a surprisingly high percentage of new homeowners. When you're considering how to reach first time homeowners, there are a number of channels you can use to capture them. You'll also find that your geographic location will give you more information to help you target your market.  For many homebuyers in California rents have been rising so quickly and consistently that home ownership becomes more and more appealing with every rental increase notice. Remember that your buyers don’t necessarily need 20 percent down like in the olden days. There are many programs that offer down payment options of 0-5% making homeownership possible for more people. How to Market to Renters to Help Convert Them to Home Buyers For the renters who have already decided that they want to purchase a home, the marketing campaigns should be tailored more for sales than education, though value based content can still be used here. These future buyers can be considered warm leads because they already have an interest in purchasing.  To reach renters who have not already committed to buying a property, real estate agents sometimes need to use more creative solutions in order to educate and convince this market. The good news is that many renters would prefer to be homeowners. They often believe they can't afford it but in many cases they simply need more education about the buying process.  Educate Prospective Buyers on the Affordability of Buying There are a number of ways to do this but the reality is that many would be buyers don't even research the idea of buying property because they mistakenly believe they can't afford it. Many of them can and should consider buying rather than renting. They also often believe that their monthly mortgage payment would be higher than their current rent, but that's often not the case, either. Here are some ways you can reach these renters with more information that can help them to see buying as a good alternative for them: Online Campaigns. You can use your social media channels and newsletters to help educate renters on the financial realities of buying. This can include statistics and personal stories showcasing the benefits to owning a home over renting. Value Packed Blog and YouTube Posts. Use your website blog to host informative pieces that can be helpful for renters looking to buy. This can include tips on saving for the down payment for a home and information on finding the right property to fit your budget and lifestyle. Articles in Local Publications. If renters aren't currently looking to buy a property, they may never visit your blog or pay attention to any of your campaigns. But articles in local publications have a broader reach. This might include town newsletters, local papers, and magazines. Personal Outreach. Hosting webinars and classes about home buying can be a great way to educate first time buyers.  You'll find that many would be buyers are simply misinformed about the process. Helping to educate them on the benefits of home ownership can be an excellent way to reach this fantastic market I wanted to write a blog about this because many of our real estate school students start out working with buyers and many of these are first time homebuyers. Having a solid plan of action to target and convert this market segment can prove profitable to the newer real estate agent. If you are interested in taking real estate classes call us at 888 768 5285 or visit us at www.adhischools.com Love, Kartik
Selling Homes

6 Things Home Buyers Should Consider When Buying a Historic Home

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While historic homes don’t make up the bulk of sales for most Realtors, there are some agents who specialize in historic home sales. Still, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't venture into this great

While historic homes don’t make up the bulk of sales for most Realtors, there are some agents who specialize in historic home sales. Still, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't venture into this great market, or that you should defer to a local agent that has more experience with historic properties. Historic homes can be an amazing acquisition for the right buyer. But there are some things specific to these types of properties that you should be aware of in order to best serve your clients. Why Historic Homes Can Be an Amazing Purchase Historic homes and properties within historic districts have amazing features that many buyers prize. For the home buyer who loves classic architecture or enjoys the history behind their residence, no new construction could ever compare. You may have a client who just falls in love with a historic property or you may have a client who is specifically looking for something with historic significance.  Each geographic location has their own historical homes that bring some flavor of past residents to life. The amazing thing with many historic homes is that they've gone through numerous generations and the history of each family is often present in the home itself. You can see this through additions made to the original architecture and a layering of the original design with more modern elements added over time. The architectural and historic appeal is often the biggest benefit that your clients might be looking at in making their decision. But there are some other benefits that might be available that you should research and point out when applicable. 6 Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Historic Property While many home buyers fall in love with the romance and history of historic properties, there are some things to consider which are unique to these types of property. Unlike new construction or homes built in recent years, historic homes have some quirks that can at times be costly to maintain. They've weathered many seasons and, depending on the local weather and type of construction, they may be in need of some extra TLC in regular maintenance. Here are some things to make sure that your clients are aware of when purchasing a historic home: 1. Does the Property Include Elements Besides the Home? Some historic properties are larger than a typical home lot and may include other structures which may also be historical in nature. They also often include great gems in landscaping, such as very large, beautiful trees, carefully planned gardens and hedges, greenhouses, gazebos, and even ponds. 2. Is There A Mass Appeal to this Home's History? In cases where the property of someone with great local or national significance or where the architect was someone of note, the home might be used for touring or parts of the property might be useful to rent for events. If you're not interested in opening up your private residence in this manner, you might still find this a major perk just to own a home of this value and showcase it for your own purposes. 3. Possible Tax Incentives and Funding In many areas, there are available funds and lower interest loans available for people who buy historical homes and wish to renovate them. These loans do come with some strings attached. The renovations often need to be done to certain specifications in order to maintain the home's integrity as a historic place. 4. Higher Than Average Renovation Costs Each property is different. If your client is looking at a historic home that has already been completely renovated, they may not need to worry over renovation costs. However, in a case where there is major renovation work, it can often be more costly than renovating a newer home. This is because you'll often need to replace pieces that are no longer made or commonly used in newer construction. To maintain the historic significance, you may need to hire specialty contractors or preservationists to work on the home, which can be way higher in cost than a do it yourself project. 5. There May Be Restrictions In many places, there are restrictions on the types of changes you can make to a historic property. This might include rigid restrictions on the outside aesthetic, such as paint color schemes and landscaping. It also might mean that you're prohibited from enhancing the property with new additions. It's important that buyers know these parameters in advance because they may need to live in a home where the architecture and design is less convenient for today's lifestyle than it was for the generation who built it. In most cases, those historic differences will add to the charm of the place. 6. More Likely to Have Hazards Than Newer Properties Older properties were often built with materials that are no longer in use because they were found to be hazardous, such as asbestos. They also may be more prone to issues like mold because of the age of the home itself. It's important to have the home thoroughly inspected by a professional before purchasing. They can tell you if there are any issues in advance.  Historic homes provide a wonderful glimpse into past generations and can often be a dream residence for the right buyer. If you want more information about the historic properties in your area, contact the National Register of Historic Places.  As always, the first place to start your real estate journey is with a great online real estate course like ours. Call us today at 888 768 5285 if we can be of service. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

5 Ways to Making a Great First Impression: A Real Estate Agents Guide

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When you're in sales, the first impression can be the gateway to success. For real estate agents, it's the first step down a long and potentially lucrative path. The good news is that working on your first

When you're in sales, the first impression can be the gateway to success. For real estate agents, it's the first step down a long and potentially lucrative path. The good news is that working on your first impression will serve not just your career, but every other relationship you have in life. I wanted to write a blog post to take you through what a solid first impression looks like, how it helps you better relate to your clients, and what their takeaway will mean for your bottom line. How to Create a Great First Impression 1. The Basics Most of making a good first impression is common sense. However, just because it's easy to understand, doesn't mean it's easy to do. Even natural extroverts have to continually practice their manners and mannerisms before they get it right. Smile: Nearly half of all Americans say that the smile is the most memorable feature after meeting someone new. A fresh-faced smile sends a signal to people that you're happy to work with them and you're ready to get the work done. Focus: When it comes to meeting new clients, the nervousness of making a good first impression can be enough to force your head down. Eye contact is both polite and helps forge an instant connection with clients. Listen: Anyone who's ever dealt with a salesperson knows how frustrating it can be to feel as though your words are going straight into the wind. Active listening means paying attention, asking questions, and responding to the clients' real concerns. 2. Dig a Little Deeper A first impression is more than just following the basics. Picture the guy with the comically huge grin plastered on his face, the woman with off putting eye contact, or the agent who effusively responds to every statement as if it's the most fascinating thing they've ever heard. In the strictest sense of the word, they're smiling, listening, and focusing, but they still aren't leaving the right impression. To really master the directions, you need to practice sincerity with each step. Express genuine emotion when appropriate, but remember that subtlety can also go a long way. Give a small grin when meeting people and save the teeth for the last minute. Follow-up on client statements that are vague or need further information. Blink normally when making eye contact and don't be afraid of looking down for a second if the conversation is getting too intense. 3. Practice Makes Perfect Practicing your first impression doesn't necessarily mean going to your local bar and talking to endless strangers. It can be as simple as setting up role-playing with people you already know and trust. Have them provide honest feedback and constructive criticism about the sincerity of your smile, the volume of your voice, and the firmness of your handshake. These comments can go a long way if you're trying to understand how other people see you during their first interaction. When you're shaking someone's hand, look into their eyes and strike a balance between death grip and limp. Use the first name as quickly as possible during the conversation so you're less likely to forget their names halfway through. Make sure that you’re annunciating your words and the volume of your voice is appropriate for the context of the environment. 4. Do Your Prep Work Once you've taken care of some of the more subjective aspects of the first impression, you should have a much easier time addressing the more practical work of meeting someone. Being prepared can be as simple as getting to a meeting early or donning a sports coat or blazer to make your outfit just a touch more professional. Before you meet with clients, it helps to know as much as possible about what they're looking for. Even if it's as simple as knowing they want a duplex rather than a single-family. The art of sales can get complicated, so it helps to hit the ground running. 5. Express Yourself As tempting as it can be to remain neutral during your meeting, blandness will ultimately not help you be memorable. The truth is that even the most successful real estate agent may turn off a client or two with their personality, but it's ultimately better than being seen as forgettable. You can still be polite and respectful while expressing your personal opinions. To stay on topic and to maximize the first few seconds with a client, some agents may give a short elevator speech where they emphasize their particular brand. So whether you're a bulldog in negotiations or the master of the short escrow, letting clients know upfront can be a good way to stand out. Unlike most traditional sales, successfully navigating a property sale can take months or longer. If you hope to maintain your reputation and relationship with your clients for that long, you need to get off on the right foot. Use these tips to stand out from the crowd, so you're the one who ends up growing customer base. This may be a slightly different blog post than I normally write, but so many of our real estate school students express their nervousness in meeting clients early in their careers. Hope this helps. If you are interested in taking online real estate courses please visit our website or call us at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Real estate licensing stuff

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent

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Changing careers and becoming a Realtor is a major step in anyone's life. As such, a real estate agent has to budget for pre- and post-licensing expenses as accurately as possible. But it isn’t only

Changing careers and becoming a Realtor is a major step in anyone's life. As such, a real estate agent has to budget for pre- and post-licensing expenses as accurately as possible. But it isn’t only real estate agents who have to account for these sorts of expenses. Most professional service providers like accountants and attorneys are just a few of the similar models that budding real estate agents can look at as a model. .h2head{text-transform:none;color:grey;font-weight:500;margin-top:40px;} .bull1{margin-left:50px;} .bull2{margin-left:50px;} .bull3{padding-right:20px; padding-left:20px;} .bull4{padding-right:15px;padding-left:20px;} .bull5{padding-right:15px; padding-left:20px;} .bull6{padding-right:20px; padding-left:20px;} @media(max-width:800px){ .bull1{margin:auto 0;} .bull2{margin:auto 0;} .bull3{padding-left:-0px;} .bull4{padding-left:-0px;} .bull5{padding-left:-0px;} .bull6{padding-left:-0px;} } Real Estate School Cost Before becoming a Realtor, prospective agents have to pay for real estate license classes in order to sit for the state examination. Real estate courses aren't free and as such you should budget the cost of real estate school into your plans. ADHI Schools’ real estate license courses: $150-$499 Real Estate Exam Fees In addition to the cost of the licensing courses at a state approved real estate school, there are exam and license fees to consider as well. Also, remember that this article is written and published in March of 2020. These fees can change over time. You are encouraged to check our website or call us at 888 768 5285 to ensure that you are looking at the most recent set of fees. State examination: $60 4 year real estate license: $245 Criminal background/Livescan fee: $80 Real Estate Broker Fees Once you complete all these pre-license costs, the broker you decide to associate with will determine the next set of costs. When shopping for a place to hang your hat in the early days of your real estate career, be sure to find out about: ⦁Desk fees, if any, that you will have to remit to the broker. These are fees that the broker charges whether or not you actually sell anything. ⦁ The commission split you have to pay to the broker. Most brokers will take some portion of the commission you pay to them from every transaction that you close. ⦁ What day-to-day expenses, if any, the brokerage will cover. ⦁How and if the brokerage will help you get leads. Ongoing Costs: Marketing Expenses, Continuing Education, Travel All the factors listed above should play a part in your decision about which broker to choose after you get your real estate license. Remember, there's much more to your upfront expenses than real estate courses and tuition for real estate license school. Note that, like most other business professionals and entrepreneurs, you will have some expenses even before getting a license. After that, there will be other costs, only some of which should be considered "upfront" in nature. A few, like ongoing marketing expenses, continuing education costs and travel expenses should be put into the "ongoing" category since they need not be paid before you earn your first commissions. Realtor Membership Dues Don’t forget that to join professional associations like the National and California Association of Realtors will also set you back over $1,000 annually in California. This will cover your access to the Multiple Listing Service, the contract generation software and an eKey that will allow you to open homes with lockboxes. Marketing Fees As an active real estate agent, you will also likely have ongoing marketing fees of at least $1,000 or more per year: This category includes necessary items for getting your name out there, like business cards, flyers, advertising, signs, websites and similar items. Keep in mind that your broker might cover some of the above expenses for you. That's why it is essential that you discuss all the details of expense coverage, desk fees and commission splits with your prospective broker. Those factors will have a profound effect on what comes out of your pocket as opposed to what someone else will pay once you decide to become a Realtor. Now That You Know the Cost, It’s Time to Start Your Career Starting your new real estate career with eyes wide open is helpful. I wanted to write a blog post specifically about this as I know that the newer real estate licensee will likely have many of these questions. If you haven’t taken the first step to become a real estate agent, enroll in our real estate license courses today! Call me at 888 768 5285 if we can be helpful. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

What to Do When You Have a Difficult Client

Realtor shaking hands with client over coffee

Welcome to the world of people. Some clients you have are going to be just terrific. Others can make you regret getting into the real estate business altogether. Most are probably going to be somewhere

Welcome to the world of people. Some clients you have are going to be just terrific. Others can make you regret getting into the real estate business altogether. Most are probably going to be somewhere in between. With that said, one of the benefits of working in our real estate business is the ability to work one-on-one with people. Not only are you helping to fill their needs, but also create positive, long-lasting relationships in many cases. Remember that after you finish real estate school with us and get out into the real world you’re going to find that not all people are as easy to deal with as you might like. Sometimes, you’re going to have a client that is.. well.. let’s just call them challenging. Whether you are a seasoned real estate agent or a new Realtor who just passed the real estate license exam, there are a few simple things you can do to make these difficult relationships easier to manage. #1: Keep Your Calm No matter how awful the things are that the client may be saying, it’s essential to remain professional. If you have to rant and get some of your frustrations off your chest do so in private (not with agents or other clients). It is always important to keep the focus on the transaction. Remember, you do not have to work with them again. Consider this. When a client is difficult, you may feel as though they are not worth your time or energy. Keep in mind that some difficult clients may be self-aware enough to recognize this about themselves. If you stick with them long term, they are more likely to continue the process and transact. They may even surprise you and refer you other business. It’s not always going to be easy, but it can be necessary to stick it out and maintain your composure and professionalism. #2: Listen to Their Underlying Concerns What happens if you encounter is a client that’s seemingly always unhappy? They complain about every property even though they’ve just asked to see it. They may say that the price is too high and the neighborhood isn’t good enough. A true leader can recognize that constant negative behavior like this may point to a larger, underlying problem. Sit down with your client and talk about what you’ve looked at and the concerns you have had thus far. Then, ask them what they really want. Try to uncover their concerns. Are they truly ready to buy? Perhaps they are not sure if they have their finances teed up. In other cases, they may be be a fear of completing the purchase and make this type of commitment. Their complaints are just symptomatic of another issue. Bear in mind that there are situations where their concerns will be valid. Perhaps they don’t feel you’re putting enough time into them or that you aren’t giving them what they need. It’s important to get them to clarify the root of the problem so that you can address it and move on. #3: Respond to Them Sooner Let’s say a client contacts you at 9 pm. What he or she said is irritating to you. You want to clarify the situation, but it’s already so late. Are you going to spend the night tossing and turning as a result of this situation? If so, it’s better to respond now and get it over with, so you can sleep. The key here is when a client raises a concern about any factor, make it a priority to get it figured out as soon as you can. This helps to validate the client’s concerns. That doesn’t mean you are agreeing with them or even accepting any type of blame. Rather, you are simply moving things forward to the next step in the process. Be sure to restate their claim or concern. For example, you might say, “Thank you for your email. I understand you are concerned with the timing of this sale….” You do not have to provide a solution right away, but you can tell the client you’re working on it or set up a time to talk about it. #4: Let Go of Fear Let’s say there is a client that just downright doesn’t understand the rules of the game. The buyer may want to underbid every property you show them. What about a seller who is adamant about overpricing the home? Worse yet, what about a seller who is refusing to make proper disclosures to a buyer? In these situations, you may be afraid to lose the client, but you have to step outside of that fear. Be frank and honest with your clients all of the time. Tell them what is going to happen in any given situation. “If we underbid this by that much, we’re going to lose it to a competitor’s bid. Here’s what I think we should do.” Or, state, “It’s legally required to communicate this information. If you are not willing to do that, I need to step away from this relationship to protect my real estate license.” Sometimes, you have to say what they need to hear frankly. Taking charge like this doesn’t mean being aggressive, but it means reminding them, in a positive way, that you know what you are doing. #5: Find a Solution as a Priority When clients are difficult, there is generally a reason for this. Your goal is not to ignore that concern. Rather, it is to find a compromise or solution that works for them. We are in the business of helping people, and that often means figuring out what they want and need without them clarifying this. There will be times when you will miss the mark or make a mistake. The great real estate agent will admit those mistakes and find a solution to recover the client. How can you improve this situation if you were wrong? On the other hand, if the client is wrong, you may want to throw your hands up and walk away. Before you do that, explain what’s happening. Then, offer more than one solution. By giving your client an option, you put the ball in their court. They now remain in charge of the outcome. Difficult clients happen in every business. As you work to build your real estate career, you will find that there are 10 good clients for every bad one. Those are good odds, and it can mean that that one individual is pushing you to become a better agent, one that has to step outside of their comfort zone to support their client and your real estate sales business. I’m always looking to bring our readers value. If I can be of service, please let me know. Feel free to reach out on Instagram or by phone at 888 768 5285. Side note - If you read this and aren’t scared away at the prospect of real estate sales and want to enroll in our real estate school, feel free to do so here. We would love to have you as our newest student! Love, Kartik
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Is real estate school hard

Real estate school student sitting in front of stack of textbooks

Making the decision to invest your time in real estate school is a big one. After all, starting a new career does take work in order to be successful. The process starts with getting the right education

Making the decision to invest your time in real estate school is a big one. After all, starting a new career does take work in order to be successful. The process starts with getting the right education to prepare you with the tools and resources to thrive in our great real estate business. The question many people ask when starting their journey is whether or not real estate school is “hard”? It’s Not Hard – It’s New Real estate school itself isn’t difficult. However, a new skill set can take time and a little effort to develop. Think about all the things you’re good at now that took a little getting used to. For example, you didn’t learn to drive in just one day. You probably didn’t learn your favorite hobby instantly, either. The fact that skills take a little time to nurture have more to do with the rules of nature, not real estate classes. To be clear, there is plenty to learn. To prepare for the real estate exam you’ll have to understand property taxation, landlord:tenant rules and basic real property ownership laws. Some topics can be a bit complex but with the right real estate school the process can go a little smoother. You Have Varied Learning Options Everyone learns at a different rate and with an individualized learning style. What’s great about our real estate school is that our students can choose the learning method that works best for them. Some students do best in a classroom with a teacher lecturing them. Perhaps that’s the way you’ve always learned new things. You may like having a dedicated space to go to at a set time to learn. We offer over 20 classroom locations with expert instructors ready and able to answer your questions. We also offer over 500 YouTube videos on various real estate related topics. Finally, each one of our students gets college-level textbooks filled with real estate goodness to help you get started and more importantly finish up and get your real estate license. So whether you like the classroom, the online world or physical textbooks we have you covered from all angles. ADHI Schools Offers the Solutions Right for You Here’s the really good news. At ADHI, you can learn any way that works for you. We offer both online and optional in-person educational programs. They are structured to give you the best opportunity to explore the material in a manner that fits your goals. How Long Do I Have to Finish? With ADHI Schools, your enrollment in the real estate program lasts a full year. That is more than enough time to learn the material and to do so at a pace that’s right for you. Perhaps you’re still working another career, or you are balancing personal life responsibilities. With this program, you don’t ever have to feel rushed. Most of our students finish the program a lot quicker than this but this type of flexibility gives you the ability to be in control. If you find some of the subject matter difficult, you can use the resources provided to dive deeper into that area than others that you find easier to take in. The net-net bottom line is that real estate education isn’t too hard, but it is a new skill you need to learn, and that means it takes some commitment on your part. Even if you have no real background in real estate prior to this, it isn’t insurmountable. You may even enjoy all that you are learning. =) With the right school (like ADHI Schools), and the best support team, (like our staff), you’ll get through every course and topic with ease, walking away with the confidence in what you’ve achieved. Want to talk? Call me at 888-768-5285. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Are The Holidays A Good Time To Sell A Home?

Christmas tree with presents in living room

Happy holidays! Did you finish your real estate license courses as yet? Have you prepared for the real estate exam? In a way, I almost feel bad for our real estate school students who get their real

Happy holidays! Did you finish your real estate license courses as yet? Have you prepared for the real estate exam? In a way, I almost feel bad for our real estate school students who get their real estate licenses during the holidays. Becoming a Realtor in December can be a tough thing. A common objection that real estate agents get around this time of year is that sellers and buyers say they want to “wait until after the 1st”. While potential clients are waiting you aren’t earning. I wanted to write an article to answer the question of “Is selling your home during the holidays, a good idea?” Traditionally, home selling during November and December can be a bit slower depending on your market. People often put it off until the New Year for no real reason other than the perception might be that the first quarter of the next year is better than the fourth quarter of the prior one. It’s important to recognize that there is no “best time” to sell a property - the best time is when your client is ready to move. There are a few key reasons why selling during the holidays could be the ideal choice.  If you have clients that are on the fence about moving now, communicate the following as to why this could be the perfect time to list. There Are Far Fewer Homes on the Market Perhaps the most compelling reason to list during the holidays is that there tends to be less competition. Depending on where you live, inventory can be a concern. People are buying homes throughout the year – including the final quarter. At the same time, fewer sellers list at this time, creating more opportunities for your listing to sell faster and for more money. Compare this to the spring and early summer when there are more listings that tend to hit the market. This increase in supply can contribute to more of a buyer’s market as supply increases which can drive marketing times up and prices to soften. When your home hits the market during the holidays and it fits a buyer’s needs, and it’s the only one that does, buyer don’t have that luxury of tire-kicking. This can work in your favor as a seller every time. You Might Sell Faster, Too Along with that increased demand for your property is the likelihood that your home will sell faster. Redfin did a study back in 2013 that found homes listed during the fall and winter months sold 65 percent of the time – which is more than any other time of the year. They also found that homes that sold between December 21st through March 21st sold closest to their listing price. For sellers, this means a sale more likely closer to list price. Holidays Buyers Are More Committed When selling a home during the spring and summer months, you’ll find that many of the showings rarely write offers. While that may be for many reasons, one key fact is that many people looking at homes during summer might not be ready to buy. They are browsing or window shopping during the summer. The weather is nicer and open houses can be a “thing to do” on a lazy Sunday afternoon. However, buyers looking for a home during the winter months are likely to be far more serious. They are ready and tend to be qualified buyers, too. Consider why this may be. A person buying a home in December probably does not want to spend all of their extra time going from home to home – there’s much more to do. Family might be in town during the holiday season, the kids may be off of school - personal time is at a premium this time of yet. Net-net wintertime buyers are often serious buyers and ready to go. You Can Create Some Holiday Magic to Show Off Your Home Though you shouldn’t overdo it, adding a bit of holiday magic to your listing can be an excellent way to move buyers into action. For example, if you live in an area where people routinely decorate for the season, adding a few holiday decorations and creating a formal, but elegant display can help people see themselves in that home next year, doing the same. In other words, the holidays can work for you here. As a real estate agent, the holidays present an opportunity to light up the fireplace and to bake some cookies, too. Why go to this trouble? You’re setting the stage and creating an opportunity for the potential buyers looking at your listing to see what life could be like if they buy from you. What other time of the year is your home as inviting? The holidays can be magical. People Moving for Jobs Need Homes Before January Many people switch positions and relocate around the beginning of the year meaning they might be forced or at least incentivized into buying a home in December. You may find that this creates an influx of buyers for you in the last few weeks of the year. If you live in an area where job growth is plentiful and high-paying positions are common, this is a key reason to take listings now rather than wait until the New Year. When Is The Best Time To List A Home for Sale? There’s no right answer to this question. We should be ready to help our clients whenever they need it and do what’s in their best interest. The perceived benefit of waiting until the spring months to list might not be real. Remember that the spring and summer periods are when sellers may have increased competition to sell. If you are considering enrolling in our real estate license school, please feel free to reach out on Instagram or call the office at 888 768 5285. We are always happy to help! Just like selling a home, starting real estate school to get your real estate license doesn’t have a “best time”. The best time is when you are ready. There’s no time like the present! I'm looking forward to having you as our newest student! Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to build a real estate website

Person building a real estate website using wordpress

I don’t think that anyone can deny that nearly every business should have a website of some sort.  To the extent you can, it’s far better to control your own digital footprint rather than have the

I don’t think that anyone can deny that nearly every business should have a website of some sort.  To the extent you can, it’s far better to control your own digital footprint rather than have the world do it for you.   According to one recent study, an incredible 93% of all interactions between a business and its customers begin in the exact same way: with a search engine like Google. For that reason alone, the quality and execution of your real estate website is of paramount importance - especially in those fragile early days of your career. OK so you finished real estate school and have passed the real estate license exam and obtained your real estate license. Your career can begin in earnest. But without the right, thoughtfully designed website to make your presence known, you're not going to get as far as quickly. Thankfully, designing the perfect real estate website - one that is compelling, that properly speaks to what you do and your value proposition - isn't necessarily as difficult as you might think. All it requires is the right approach, and for you to keep a few core things in mind. Understand Your Goals Before you think about the actual design of your website, you need to come to terms with exactly what that design needs to do. Yes, there's a certain element of marketing at play here in that your website is supposed to be selling something. Only instead of pitching your products and services, in our real estate business you're really selling the most valuable asset of all: yourself. But even more than that, you need to understand that your website is more than just an advertisement. It's a way to make people aware of your unique perspective on the real estate industry, it's an opportunity to establish yourself as an authority in your market and it's a way to begin building trust - essentially all at the same time. If your site comes off as little more than an expanded advertisement that someone might see when searching through Google, you're not going to be able to do any of those things. Therefore, your real estate website needs to be genuine, honest, informative and legitimately helpful - all in equal measure. These four qualities need to inform every decision you make moving forward, from design all the way down to the type of content you create and share. Get Specific With It There's a common misconception out there that the right real estate website needs to appeal to the largest audience that it can. But the truth is that your visitors will rarely come to your site looking for a home across an entire state, or even in a larger city. They're going to be looking for information on current listings in specific neighborhoods, and you need to be able to capitalize on that. All of this is to say that you shouldn't build your site in a way that claims you're an authority on "real estate in California" or even "real estate in San Diego, California." Hone in on specific neighborhoods and communities that you have the most experience with. Integrate Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and Internet Data Exchange (IDX) search capabilities into your site in a way that allows people to focus their efforts on those places they really want to live in. Establish yourself as an authority at first in a few specifically targeted areas and work on building your reputation - and your client list - over time. You can always expand your focus later as your business does the same, but in those early days don't be afraid to get as granular as you possibly can. It's Also About Supplementary Features Remember that the goal of your real estate website shouldn't JUST be to offer listings for homes in those areas, though. Listing sites are a dime a dozen - the chances are high that people will have seen information about a lot of those current homes in other areas before they ever stumble across your domain. Instead, you need to go above and beyond that idea - turn your site into a true informational and educational resource in every sense of those words. You should absolutely be writing blog posts that give insight on current trends in the industry. Poke around my blog.  I’ve been in our business for almost 20 years and I have written over 200 articles and recorded over 1,400 videos on real estate topics.  This helps to establish me as an industry expert.  Remember, however, that I started out just like you - 0 followers and 0 content.  It takes time and consistency to make it work.  The sheer volume of content being produced every second is making it harder and harder to get noticed.  This underscores the fact that you have to pump out as much high quality content as possible to get known. So what to do?  As a new agent take the time to write a few hundred words that take an important real estate topic and break it down in a way that is easy for anyone to understand. Write about what people should look for in a first home and what they shouldn't be focusing so much of their attention on, for example. Try and integrate videos, a comment section, mortgage calculators and other things that will make the house hunt as easy as possible. Don't forget that you're not just trying to get someone to buy or sell a home. You're trying to convince them to buy or sell a home with YOU. To get to that point, people need to see you as an authority - articles and videos go a long way towards establishing precisely that. Reviews, and Lots of Them Last but not least we arrive at the concept of reviews - something that is particularly important in terms of your long-term success in real estate. People aren't just going to take your word for it that you know what you're talking about. Real estate has always been built on relationships - someone wants to buy a new home and they immediately turn to their friends and say "hey, do you know anybody I can call for help?" The Internet operates in exactly the same way, to the point where a massive 90% of people who responded to a survey who read online reviews claimed that those positive reviews absolutely influenced their eventual buying decision. When you close on a deal with a client, ask them to write you a review. Then, get that review up on your website as soon as you can. Then, share those reviews on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter - which should also be integrated into your site. Do this as often as you possibly can. This will help you establish social proof, which truly is the currency of the modern era. The more someone sees that others value what you do, the sooner they'll start to value it, too. At that point, you'll have a steady stream of hot new leads headed straight to your door. At the end of the day don’t be afraid to shine and show off a little.  If you can add value somewhere by earning a 5 star review or writing a blog or recording a video do it!  Don’t be afraid to show the world that you are a real estate expert and you know what you’re doing.   If I can be of service, please let me know.  You can connect on Instagram here or reach out by phone at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Why weekends matter to the entrepreneur

Cup of coffee next to laptop and notepad

It’s Saturday and I’m at a local coffee shop banging away on the keyboard.  I like working on stuff like this on Saturday and Sundays.  It’s quiet.   Yes i have a few people in the office today,

It’s Saturday and I’m at a local coffee shop banging away on the keyboard.  I like working on stuff like this on Saturday and Sundays.  It’s quiet.   Yes i have a few people in the office today, but it’s nothing like the sometimes pandemonium associated with a weekday.   I wanted to write a quick article about why weekends matter to the entrepreneur because it’s not hard to argue that there’s never been a better time to start your own business. Between the ability to reach a large audience and access to technology, individual people with great ideas and a solid work ethic have a better chance to succeed in today's market. However, that does not make success an easy thing to achieve. Statistics indicate that around 62% of adults think that becoming an entrepreneur can be an excellent career. When you break down those numbers, though, you'll find that nearly 50% think they themselves are equipped to become an entrepreneur and 40% believe it's easy. Let's just cut to the chase — the people who think it's easy are mistaken. Ask any entrepreneur who has even a modicum of success and they have likely taken ridiculous risks and worked very hard to make their baby fly. Notwithstanding those “entrepreneurs” who have “Phds”.  If you're wondering, a PhD means “Papa Has Dough”.  For the most part, I’m not talking about those who had a family member give them money to “start their own thing”.  I’m talking about the real entrepreneurs who started from nothing and actually built something great.   Entrepreneurship sounds like a great business because Instagram and other social media outlets inundate us with information about the benefits of being self-employed. Some of this propaganda includes an excitement about the work you're doing, the ability to make a living doing the things you love and being your own boss. What you might not be aware of is that small business owners often work longer much longer hours than their employees. At least they do if they're building a successful business. I'm not totally complaining about the glamour that the Internet has put on the business of real estate.  It's helped push lots of people to enroll in our real estate license school and pass the real estate exam. Still, it's important to remember that there is only so much time in a day and time is your most valuable commodity. This is why many entrepreneurs work every day and set their schedules so that they can optimize the time when they're working. If you have a great idea and are launching your business, here are some reasons you should consider working weekends. Why Entrepreneurs Don't Follow the Typical Weekend Schedules For a typical employee, there are set number of days where  work is required and specified days off. The most common model by far is Monday through Friday, 9-5. This may vary but, for the most part, Saturday and Sunday are days off to catch up on personal errands or spend time with family and friends. These are the reset days for the typical working world. For an entrepreneur, taking these days off completely may not be possible if they want their business to thrive. Because the rest of the businesses they deal with are likely closed on one or both of those days, the weekend becomes a fantastic time for entrepreneurs to catch up, refocus, and innovate. This doesn't mean that you have to work around the clock to run a successful business. In fact, doing that can easily lead to burnout. A work/life balance is important for healthy relationships outside of your career. But most entrepreneurs do find ways to use their hours creatively to improve their productivity. This might mean taking downtime on a weekday so that you can work through the weekend. It might also mean working part of the day on a weekend so that you can participate in social events around your work schedule. Benefits to Using Weekends for Work Time There are a few reasons that entrepreneurs work through many of their weekends. Here are a few benefits to working through other peoples' downtime: • Fewer Distractions. Working on a weekend allows you more time to focus uninterrupted. This is true whether you're a business owner or work on a team. Because your clients and other professionals usually don't work on Saturday or Sunday, you won't have to spend time fielding calls from clients, attending conference calls, or attending to different things that might pop up during a regular business day. This gives you the uninterrupted time you need to focus on a single task. • Time to Plan. Weekdays tend to fly by with many demands and few chances to catch up. This is especially true for small business owners who often take charge of multiple aspects of their company. With the rest of the world off the clock, the weekend gives you time to assess your previous week. You can check to make sure you've stayed on schedule with assigned tasks (and catch up on tasks you didn't get to). This time is also a great way to plan ahead for the following week. If you choose a day over the weekend to plan and assess your progress every week, you'll be more likely to keep your benchmarks in mind and achieve short term and long term goals. • Less Rigid Schedule. Working on weekends doesn't have to feel like you never get a day off. You don't necessarily have to work from the office and you can even plan your hours to suit your mood. I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now with my laptop and a latte.  It feels little less like work when I’m in a pair of Jordan’s and jeans as opposed to a suit and tie.  There Are Down Sides, Too Successful entrepreneurs build their businesses to a large degree because they've put in the work and effort. That does come with sacrifices. While it's true that many small business owners use weekend hours to help them get ahead, that doesn't mean it's always easy. For lots of us including myself the work is something we love and are excited about. We often enjoy putting in long hours and have a sense of pride and purpose in what we are doing. However, that doesn't mean it's always easy to spend your Saturdays and Sundays working when the rest of the world is getting that time to take care of their personal needs. Here are a few negative points to working weekends that you should be prepared to navigate: • Loved Ones May Not Understand. If your significant other is on the “regular” world schedule, they may not understand the long hours you put in at your company and it can lead to arguments. • Most Personal/Social Obligations Are On Weekends. This is especially true if you have children but even single people will find their social calendar is mostly full of events on weekends. • You Miss Out On Some Great Events. It's not all about obligations. Working those hours also means you'll miss out on fun events that you'd enjoy attending.  A football game in the middle of a Sunday might be something that is playing on the TV or online in the background as opposed to you being able to physically attend the game.   Building a thriving business means working longer hours than you would as an employee. That's simply a truth. Weekends offer you hours to catch up and get ahead of your competition. I’m always looking to bring you value.  If there is anything I can do to help, please reach out on Instagram or call the office at 888 768 5285.   If you are interested in becoming a real estate agent, please call me or my team. We are happy to be of service. Love, Kartik 
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to Write Winning Ad Copy for Real Estate  

Real estate agent typing ad copy on her laptop

A little different type of blog from me this time. I wanted to write something for those that have already finished our real estate license courses and are working in the field.   I was browsing some

A little different type of blog from me this time. I wanted to write something for those that have already finished our real estate license courses and are working in the field.   I was browsing some listings on the MLS recently and was horrified at some of the pictures agents were uploading but even worse was of the copy used to describe the listings.  Problems with syntax, punctuation and tense were not uncommon.  If you have a listing now or are going to take one soon, I would recommend making sure your ad copy is extra tight.  Remember that besides pictures, the ad copy is the most important part of your listing marketing material.   There are really no hard and fast rules for writing real estate ad copy, but guidelines exist to help you capture reader attention and generate responses. The goal is to highlight enough desirable features to prompt an online visitor to click through to the full listing, or to prompt a reader to call for additional information.  The prime directive is to avoid the temptation to "oversell." Use superlatives in moderation and be sparing when including value judgments in your descriptions. Remember that only one home can be the "best value" in a neighborhood, and even that is subjective to the point that it has little meaning to a prospective buyer.  Readers tend to gloss over phrases like value-priced, priced to sell and won't last long. Common terms like amenity-filled, chef's kitchen, memorable views, and stunning architecture are overused and ineffective. The goal is to be descriptive in a manner that is meaningful, while still leaving something to the imagination so that the reader wants to know more. Writing Real Estate Copy 101 Writing ad copy that gets results isn't difficult, but it can require thought. Here are specific elements you can employ to make your efforts more effective. First, define your target audience: Online property descriptions will have a different focus, and a different tone, than a printed brochure or an open house handout. But all copy should include, at minimum, a headline or title. It might be as simple as the property address; however, if you can use a catchy descriptive phrase, do so. Something like "Come Home to a View of the Ninth Hole" would appeal to someone looking for golf course property. Then, add gas to the fire of imagination: Place yourself in the potential buyer's shoes and provide a "hook" that makes them want to continue reading. Focus on the lifestyle that can be theirs if they move into the home. "Enjoy a refreshing cool drink on your expansive poolside patio as you look forward to your next tee time at the award-winning course adjacent to your property." A brief description of the overall appeal of the community and the home's general description can be included here. It can be as brief as you wish, or it might run to several paragraphs, depending on actual space and your purpose. Say something like: "This 3-bedroom, 4-bath, 3-car garage contemporary offers everything necessary for living the good life -- privacy, convenience to schools, shopping and entertainment, an easy commute to the business center, and abundant leisure time enjoyment options with neighbors and friends." Finally, highlight the most important home features: This is where you should strive to paint meaningful word pictures. Be descriptive, but not overly detailed. Leave some specifics out. You might say something like "Old-world craftsmanship is evident in the finishes used throughout the home's 4,200 square feet, especially in the fine wood paneling and bookshelves of the home's private office."  Or, you can point to the evidence of upscale options and trendy finishes that "include an eco-friendly, sustainable choice of recycled glass countertops in the kitchen, low-VOC paint throughout, and main-level flooring crafted from reclaimed timbers." Whatever you write in words is always better when accompanied by professional photographs that graphically illustrate the same features. It's not necessary to include a book's worth of photos, but words and pictures are better when they go hand in hand. There is little more disheartening for a prospective buyer than to read a glowing description of a home spa retreat only to find that there is no photograph of the space included with the listing or in the brochure. Coordinate your efforts with your photographer and your marketing team. Keywords and Buzzwords Define your potential market. Imagine what prospective buyers would type in to an online property search: Don't simply toss around phrases like "high-end finishes, family-friendly neighborhood, or spectacular views." Instead, utilize popular keywords to generate interest, adding filters and qualifiers as needed, such as the city or subdivision. Examples include: • Beachside Cottage • Ski Retreat • Urban Condo • City Lights • Mountain Views • Polished Wood Flooring • Gated Community Know Your Market The copy you write about a high-end home will naturally be different from the copy that describes a mid-price starter home, but the same principles apply. However, don't make the mistake -- in either case -- of believing that buyers on one end of the price spectrum are any less concerned about quality and value, energy savings and sustainability, style and safety, or built-in features and community amenities.  Make every effort to describe a lifestyle rather than listing specific features. Weave specifics into general descriptions of rooms and spaces. While studies have confirmed that online readers appreciate skimmable copy and bullet points, lists can be overused. Typically, 8 to 10 bullet points are sufficient. Always stop short of making your property description simply a "laundry list" of features. To write meaningful copy, acknowledge that there are some home features that should be specifically mentioned:  • A backyard pool, because it can be either a selling point or a deal killer, depending on the buyer; • An eat-in kitchen; • Ensuite baths for each bedroom; • A detached garage, casita or other type of auxiliary building; • Specialty spaces, including an exercise room, home theater or media room, finished attic, in-law or au pair quarters; and oversize lots or adjacent acreage or public land. • Solar panels, or alternative energy provisions, including 240V electric car charging stations. Use your in-depth knowledge of the local market to determine what other features deserve mention, knowing that your decision might vary substantially from one neighborhood to the next, and even from one season to another. Monitor reactions and responses you receive, and adjust the way you write your next property description based on the feedback offered by clients.  Finally, never forget to include your contact and broker information (along with Department of Real Estate license number) and a call to action. You never know who will become your next client, or when and how they will appear. Ensure that you can be reached by anyone in need of your services! Of course if there’s anything I can do for you, including helping you get started in our real estate license courses, please let me know or call 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Characteristics Of The Most Successful Real Estate Agents

Model display of new housing development project

For those starting in our great real estate business it’s natural to ponder the best way to go about becoming successful. A well-known shortcut between starting a new career and achieving success is

For those starting in our great real estate business it’s natural to ponder the best way to go about becoming successful. A well-known shortcut between starting a new career and achieving success is to model what others before you have done. Observing the most successful people and implementing the best of their strategies is going to ensure your success more quickly than trying to reinvent the wheel altogether.  This is especially true in a simple business like real estate sales. It’s important to recognize that I said “simple” not “easy”. Our real estate sales business is a simple one as long as you do the things daily that are required to succeed. Again, this is a simple process but one that is not always easy. I wrote down a few characteristics of the most successful real estate agents. As you embark on the journey of obtaining your real estate license I would encourage you to be cognizant of how you are implementing the following: THE BEST AGENTS UNDERSTAND THEIR LOCAL MARKET There is an old saying in real estate that “All real estate is local”. To the newer agent this might not make sense but let me explain. Essentially this means that the real estate salesperson that has the most intimate market knowledge and is most deeply connected to the neighborhoods they serve will generally win. Great real estate salespeople tend to be known in the community. They may sponsor the local little league, help out with local garage sales or door knock frequently. They send direct mail postcards every month or post frequently in local Facebook groups or on nextdoor.com. Whether this connection is established through physical marketing or digital makes little difference. Net-net: The best real estate agents are known in their local marketplace. THEY UNDERSTAND THEIR CLIENTS' NEEDS This one might sound a little too broad to be helpful. You might read the above sentence of “understanding your clients’ needs” and think - “Great but what does this actually mean?” When representing a buyer, for example the best agents have their client requirements nailed down. If the client requests a property with a bedroom and full bathroom downstairs, don’t bother to show them homes that do not. If they are deeply against having a pool, make sure you check this on the MLS and verify with the listing agent before emailing it to them. Getting to know your client and being able to anticipate their needs will go a long way to helping you become a successful real estate agent. THEY HAVE A SYSTEM PERFECTED Do you have a particular time of the day when you're checking emails? Spending time with clients? Marketing your business? Having a schedule for your routine and daily activities will help keep you organized and be sure that nothing falls through the cracks. THEY KEEP THEIR SALES PIPELINE FULL It's one of the things you hear with any real estate sales business. Always be selling. If marketing and prospecting for new clients is a part of your every day routine, you'll never have to worry about a seasonal slow down or slump, because you know that the marketing system you have in place will have the next client through the door soon. Also, if your Facebook ads aren’t doing as well as they normally do A/B test the ads to ensure that you are staying on top of social media trends. Don’t ignore door knocking and telephone prospecting either. These activities might not be the most relished by the real estate professional but they are sure to give you more control over your pipeline. Hit a slump? Talk to more people. DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS AND MAKE CONNECTIONS WITHIN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY Successful real estate agents take the time to build a large network of people in the market that they serve. They don’t limit themselves to creating a database of only past, current, and potential clients. Great real estate agents should also make contacts with other experts within their industry, including appraisers and mortgage loan originators. You’ll have a ready list of vendors to refer your clients to and potentially be on the receiving end of referrals when the time comes. You should also consider building a network of other brokers and agents in outside areas. Remember, it is customary for one broker to pay another broker a referral fee for a client upon closing. (Not among service providers though, that would be. RESPA violation) THEY USE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS AND THE INTERNET TO THEIR ADVANTAGE The impact that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube have on business are undeniable. Formerly, these platforms were looked at as only a way to connect with friends and family or share photos but they have made their way into the fabric of our society. According to Statista, 91% of U.S. businesses will use social media for marketing purposes. Some of the largest companies in the world are using social media as a way to connect with their customers and potential customers. Why would the individual real estate agent be any different? As a real estate agent, if you aren't using social media, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. At a minimum, each agent should have a Facebook page to reach their potential audience. If you have the budget, a highly-targeted Facebook ad can provide additional reach to new potential clients you may not be able to find through your more traditional marketing mechanisms. THEY ARE PARTICULAR ABOUT THE DETAILS When it comes to selling real estate, the smallest details can make the biggest difference. Things like staging a home or how to position a property in certain markets can be the difference between a good and a great real estate agent. Also the intricate details of the purchase contract or the listing agreement are critical to ensure that your client’s interests are protected. THEY ARE AWARE OF SPEED TO LEAD A saying that I live by in business is that “Time kills all deals”. The best agents know that the sooner they can get back to a lead the more likely they are to convert that lead to a contract. This is especially true regarding Internet leads. Whether you are selling residential or commercial real estate, the best agents know that the sooner they respond to an inquiry the more likely deals are to close. I can’t emphasize this enough - in this day and age speed is probably the most important aspect of sales. The faster you move the more likely you are to win. I’m always looking to bring you value. If I can be of service to you please let me know on Instagram or Facebook. Of course if you are looking to get enrolled in real estate license school, reach out here. Feel free to also call the office at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

What Does A Realtor Do?

Man and woman realtors smiling

Most people think that in order to become a great Realtor we need to be good at showing and selling property," we tell ourselves. "What more is there?” In reality, it turns out there's quite a bit

Most people think that in order to become a great Realtor we need to be good at showing and selling property," we tell ourselves. "What more is there?” In reality, it turns out there's quite a bit beyond that. If you’re interested in obtaining your real estate license and become a full-fledged Realtor, it’s probably useful to learn a little bit more about what someone in that role actually does daily.  Once you finish our real estate license school and head out into the real world, you'll find that the daily responsibilities of a real estate agent are actually a lot more involved than you might think. Not in a bad way — but in a way that you should be familiar with before you begin those early days of your career. The Life of a Real Estate Agent: Breaking Things Down One of the most important daily responsibilities of any real estate agent actually has little to do with "selling houses" at all. Broadly, you need to be excellent at providing customer service to a wide range of people in a myriad of different situations. Be The Calm in the Storm Think about it like this: Buying a home is one of the most important moments in a person's life, particularly if it's the first time they're doing it. So it's an inherently stressful experience and one where people will be looking for an expert to guide them. The best real estate agents understand that they are the calming force in any transaction. You need to be able to provide people with the information they need to make the best decisions possible and you need to do so in a way that simultaneously instills confidence. It's a lesson you'll begin to learn in our real estate license school but that you'll have to perfect over time on the job. Understanding Contracts and Paperwork  Another major daily activity of a busy Realtor involves drafting and preparing things like offers and other types of paperwork. This requires a deep understanding of not only the laws and regulations in your particular market, but also the needs and requirements of the people you're actually working with. Remember that as an agent, you are someone else's advocate — they're trusting you to bring a level of experience to the deal that they themselves do not possess. To get to that point, you need to not only be aware of HOW to handle the paperwork that comes with buying and selling real estate, but organized enough to do so in the right way. That customer service element also intersects with the marketing side of the business — only instead of selling a property, you're really selling your most valuable asset of all: yourself and your abilities. Similarly, the busy real estate agents spend a majority of their day getting, obtaining and servicing listings in their marketplace. Most of the time, this is done by pouring over the Multiple Listing Service database, otherwise known as the MLS.  Most MLS databases are logical but sometimes they are not so intuitive. Only through practice running a variety of different searches can proficiency be obtained.   For example, how do you search for a single-story home, with a spa but no pool in a specific school district below $750 per square foot?  This search will take the expert Realtor 1-2 minutes, whereas for a rookie this same search might take 10-15 minutes.  Like most things - practice makes perfect.  If someone says to you, "I like this house we're looking at, but it would be better if it had X, Y and Z qualities," you should immediately be thinking of other properties you can show them. You can't do that without putting in the time to research what those listings actually are.  Working with the MLS is a crucial part of the daily life of a real estate agent. Don’t forget to prospect Most importantly, a real estate agent spends an incredible amount of time collecting leads from other sources, too — either via word of mouth from past satisfied customers or from referrals in the industry. Hitting the phones or door knocking can also be a great way to get a hot tip on a property before it actually gets on the market-  especially if it's one that you know would be perfect for one particular client. That aspect alone can quickly become an omnipresent part of the job — something that you should have at the very least in the back of your mind all day, every day. It's part and parcel for what a real estate agent actually does and, in truth, that rush of getting the jump on your competitors is a large part of why people love the profession in the first place. Get Comfortable Being Out and About Of course, a lot of your days will also be spent showing properties which is the aspect of the job that anyone who has ever purchased a home is most familiar with. But again, it's just one small part of a much larger story. Getting your start in real estate comes with the understanding that it's more of a far-reaching profession than most expect.  The great real estate agent is part therapist, part negotiator and available to answer any questions that their clients may have.   Hoping this helps. I’m always looking to bring value to our readers.  If I can help you, please reach out on Instagram @kartikspics or call the office at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

5 Things To Know Before Starting in Real Estate

Real estate agent going over blueprints

Frankly, Instagram has brought us a ton of new students. So many of our students enroll because they have seen social media posts from agents about how much money they make. Programs like Million Dollar

Frankly, Instagram has brought us a ton of new students. So many of our students enroll because they have seen social media posts from agents about how much money they make. Programs like Million Dollar Listing have contributed to this perception. While some of these stories are true and many agents do make a lot of money in our business, I wanted to write a quick article about things you should know before starting a career in real estate. I wrote a few pieces of advice - I thought the title was catchy - before anyone takes the first step in entering our business. You Are the Boss It may seem obvious, but people who have spent the majority of their lives working for a manager or supervisor are often surprised by how much discretion they have over their daily schedule. There aren’t any wake up calls in our business. No one complains if you show up 5 minutes late - or don’t show up at all. Worse yet, if you work for a “virtual brokerage” there might not be a person available to bounce ideas off of or to get advice from when you find yourself in a rut. When a decision needs to be made, you are often the person who has to be decisive and take action. You Need a Business Plan Being a self-employed person means that you need to come up with a business plan that provides a roadmap for your real estate business. How much money are you setting aside for marketing and advertising? How many transactions do you plan to close in a month, or in a year? Does your business plan call for you to work from a real estate office or work from home? How much time are you setting aside for your business if this is part-time work? In addition, you also need to understand your tax obligations. You will have to pay quarterly taxes and budget for this. You'll need to track your business income and deductions to ensure you pay enough every year. Most agents have a CPA or other tax advisor that they lean on regularly for this. It’s Useful To Have a Cash Reserve What social media posts and television rarely show are the slow periods. There will be a time when you don’t close anything and your pipeline isn’t progressing as quickly as you would like. This period can especially hold true for the brand new licensee that will have a minimum 90-day window to get a handle around the business. Always have at least a small cash reserve built up before starting, and keep adding to it little by little. By having a nest egg, you'll be able to weather slow periods and continue to build until you are at the point where you have a steady pipeline of closings. Your Schedule is Flexible... Sort Of It's true that you can work whenever you want. So if you are a night person who loves working at 2am because it is quiet and calm, you can do all your paperwork and get your online marketing accomplished during those hours. On the other hand, remember that you will have clients that can and will contact you at unpredictable times. A certain property may show up that a client wants to see right away and that showing may not have been “in your schedule” but you may feel the need to drop everything and pivot. If you become a residential real estate professional you will likely have clients that work 9-to-5 jobs. The only times they have to look at a house or arrange for a showing are evenings and on the weekends. Are you accounting for this in your plan? Somehow Differentiate Yourself from the Rest of the Pack You have a real estate license. That is an accomplishment not to be undermined. Remember, however, that you were in a full classroom of other people who also obtained their licenses. They’ll likely be working in the same neighborhoods as you. Additionally, you will also be competing against established, veteran Realtors which will be an even more competitive field. Establishing your personal brand and differentiating yourself is absolutely mission critical. Figure out what makes you unique, whether it is your marketing skills, market knowledge, or negotiating techniques. Then let people know about your skills so that they each out to you first. Start Your Real Estate Career Today Are you ready to make the move into real estate and gain the education you need to succeed? Visit our website to learn about how you can gain your license and start this exciting career. Side note - My intention with this article is not to discourage anyone from starting in our business. It’s simply to pepper a little bit of realism in the basket of fake Instagram and YouTube videos. I have many students that make into the 6 and 7 figures annually. It is possible, but everyone is looking for the secret sauce that’s going to make them successful. The truth is that there is no secret - it’s just hard work. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

Can I start real estate part-time?

Weekly time sheet for part time real estate agent

As of early this year, there were more than 2,000,000 real estate licensees throughout the United States. Of that number, around 1.3 million were members of an Association of Realtors. Additionally, a

As of early this year, there were more than 2,000,000 real estate licensees throughout the United States. Of that number, around 1.3 million were members of an Association of Realtors. Additionally, a good portion of this group has had their license for one year or less - further evidence that our industry is a competitive one. But real estate sales isn't just a highly competitive business - it can carry it’s share of stress, too. It can certainly feel like something of a grind, especially in those early days, which is why jumping into this particular pond head-first might not be the best idea. Likewise, many people who wish to enter our business don't actually have the financial ability to start on a full-time basis. But that's okay, because becoming actively involved in real estate part-time brings with it a wide range of benefits that can't be ignored. Not only can this help you confirm this is something you actually want to do, but it can assist you in creating a transition plan to get you to full-time and to replace your 9-to-5 income in a thoughtful, intentional way. Starting a Career in Real Estate: Breaking Things Down The first thing you need to do to start a part-time career in real estate involves coming up with your own unique solutions to some of the common challenges people face. Scheduling, for example, is often a difficult hurdle to overcome. It's not necessarily easy to be fully available for your clients at a time that works for them when you have another job to worry about. Unfortunately, there's no "one size fits all" solution to this issue as every situation is unique. Just know that it can be done, but you'll need to hone your organization skills and communicate your hours to prospects clearly and concisely to keep everything flowing as smoothly as possible. Likewise, it's imperative that you get your own expectations in order. Becoming successful in real estate is already time-consuming - not to mention how long things can take when you're also trying to continue your current employment. If you think that you'll somehow be able to A) work a full-time job, B) do real estate part-time, and C) keep your nights and weekends free, the chances are you're going to have to sacrifice one of those three things. You can only have two, so pick the ones that are most important to you before moving forward. This is on top of family or other personal obligations you might be faced with. In terms of the actual logistics of becoming a real estate agent, you'll first need to take care of getting your real estate license. This involves figuring out and completing your pre-license requirements, which we can help you with. If you schedule is tight we offer online correspondence real estate courses too. Once you sit for and pass your real estate license exam, you can then take another critical step in joining your local board. This Association of Realtors organization will allow you access to the Multiple Listing Service, also referred to as an MLS for short, that acts as a centralized repository that all Realtors in your area can use to list properties, view market statistics and more. You’ll need your license in order to join the association of Realtors which is why our pre-license courses are so important. Finally, you'll need to find a broker to work with. Here, you have two options: large, national brands like Coldwell Banker and Century 21 or smaller, independent and locally operated brokers. The former will come with benefits like major name recognition, but the latter will offer an intimate connection to the local community that could be quite helpful. Again - every market is unique so there is no "right answer" here. Think about which option fits best with your long-term goals and which offers the most favorable terms as far as the percentage of the commission you enjoy, desk fees and most importantly training. As a part-time real estate agent, you’ll want a company that offers training around your schedule as it will probably be less flexible than someone starting on a full-time basis. Yes, starting a real estate career part-time is going to be time-consuming and no, it isn't going to be easy. But it is absolutely possible if you enter from the right perspective and are consistent with your efforts. As the old saying goes - "anything worth doing is worth doing right." As always, I'm looking to bring you as much value as possible.  If I can be of service, send me a message or call the office at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

How Real Estate Agents Can Retire

Green car driving along the coast

Those considering a career in the real estate field are frequently drawn to the amount of money they can make on each property they sell. Each commission check can be upwards of $10,000, $20,000 or even

Those considering a career in the real estate field are frequently drawn to the amount of money they can make on each property they sell. Each commission check can be upwards of $10,000, $20,000 or even more. This is great for today because it means when you do work hard you will be rewarded handsomely. But what about tomorrow? What about when you get a little older or lose a little bit of that drive? When you become a Realtor, it’s important to remember that you are in business for yourself and should have a solid financial plan in place that provides for your post-retirement needs. It's exciting to finish real estate school and obtain your real estate license. The early phase of your career is a time to build relationships, learn the trade, and earn money while you establish yourself as a professional. But it's always wise to remember that time waits for no man woman or Realtor. At that point, all your financial planning and regular saving will pay off in the form of a stable, secure retirement income. What about retirement? To be clear, there are a lot of great real estate salespeople and brokers that have absolutely no intention of ever retiring. But there’s a difference between wanting to work and having to work. I think we can all agree that not having to actually show up at some place at some time and have money coming in and available to you would be a great thing. With that said, many Realtors often wonder how secure their retirement will be. After all, if you become a Realtor and work for yourself then you'll need a financial plan in place to take care of your retirement years. Earning a real estate license is simply an early milestone in your career. But what about life after real estate school and your sales career? You'll need to create the right kind of retirement plan for yourself. You can do this alone with some help from a CPA and Google or hire a financial planner to lay out the plan for you and keep you disciplined. Here are some things to bear in mind when thinking about long-term financial security: Consider investing in real estate. Early in my career I heard brokers tell me “Kartik you have to become your best client.” Since then a stated goal of mine has been to buy one piece of real estate each and every year. Imagine over a 20 year career in our business owning 20 properties, each with a positive cash flow of just $200 per month. That amounts to $200 per month x 20 properties = $4,000 per month. Over time the values on these properties are quite likely to rise and the loans will eventually be paid off - adding to your wealth in retirement. Of course in order to buy one property per year, you have to ensure that your income is sufficient to obtain financing - a solid real estate sales career will make this easier. Properly managed, a "nest egg" of real estate can be a smart way to diversify your retirement income resources. There are other ways to set money aside in retirement funds: You can opt to put money into a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, a solo 401(k) or a SEP IRA. All have their pros and cons that should be discussed with an appropriate professional. For example, traditional IRAs have no income limit but there is an annual contribution limit. If you pull finds out before retirement, there is a stiff penalty in most cases. Traditional IRAs are funded with your pre-tax earnings, so you'll get a nice deduction and lower your tax bill in most cases. Roth IRAs are funded with your after-tax earnings, so you get no deduction right now. The upside to a Roth is that you can take out the contributed funds any time for any reason without paying a penalty. It's also possible to set up a solo 401(k) for yourself, even if you have no employees and work as a sole proprietor. Contributions come from your pre-tax earnings but there's currently a pretty high annual limit on what you can put in. SEP IRAs are a little more complex but are a good option for real estate professionals who have a few employees. You can contribute up to 25 percent of your earnings but keep in mind that you have to do the same for each employee you have. If you withhold 10 percent, for example, from your earnings for the SEP IRA, you'll need to withhold 10 percent of each employees' earnings as well. A one-hour consultation with a reputable financial planner can resolve most questions you have about which is the best kind of retirement savings plan for your particular situation. It’s also important to remember that I’m not a financial planner and laws and rules can and do change. Make sure you’re planning properly and not relying on my blog alone to plan for your retirement. =) Please call my office at 888 768 5285 or send me a message if I can be of service. For information on real estate classes visit www.adhischools.com Always looking to bring you value. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

How To Become A Local Real Estate Expert

Real estate agent studying charts for local housing market analysis

Obtaining a real estate license after passing the real estate exam is only the beginning of your career in our great real estate business. The next step (and in many ways the more important piece of the

Obtaining a real estate license after passing the real estate exam is only the beginning of your career in our great real estate business. The next step (and in many ways the more important piece of the puzzle) is to prospect for clients. The high level question the must be asked and answered by the new agent is: What does a buyer or seller want in their Realtor? And next - How do I meet those needs? Simply put - buyers and sellers are looking for a local real estate expert. Buyers want someone who knows what local restaurants are great, where the nightlife is, what schools are perfect for their kids, and what amenities are popular in the neighborhood. Sellers, on the other hand, want a local Realtor who knows what the current and future market outlook is, what the comparable sales look like for the house when compared to other similar properties on the market, and at what price to market the home. So how do you become a local real estate expert for your clients? Here are several strategies to implement once you finish your real estate courses and become a Realtor. Go to Local Government Meetings and Chamber of Commerce Events Government meetings and chamber of commerce events will play important factors on how you grow your business and connect to community members. You'll want to pay attention to any changes, regulations or votes coming up with the city council or planning commission that will impact the local real estate market. These meetings could discuss zoning regulations or upcoming development projects, for example. Information gathered at this event can allow you to better track the market and inform clients of developments that can affect the home buying or selling process. I remember one friend of mine who was showing a high-rise condo to a buyer on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The buyer found a home online that he wanted to see and reached out to the agent for a showing. Directly across the street was an empty parking lot that was in the early stages of being the site for a new high rise development. If approved, the new structure would have completely obscured the southern view from the living room and bedroom and would have also casted a dull shadow over the pool deck. The fact that the agent was plugged into the local planning commission and had actually attended some of the Homeowner Association meetings meant that he was in the know and ultimately able to advise the buyer on the proposed development. Surely a large building blocking your view that breaks ground shortly after the close of escrow would be a nightmare scenario for the uninformed buyer. At chamber of commerce events, you can network with other businesses. You can learn about the roles these employers have in the community, and can share this information with buyers. It’ll also be a great chance to meet other entrepreneurs and refer business to one another. Get Involved in Social Events and the Community Prospective clients like to see that real estate agents are getting positively involved in local events. Whether it is partnering up with a local blood drive or volunteering time at an animal shelter, these tactics show that you want to invest your time and work in building a strong and welcoming community. Also, attend social events such as festivals and get to know people. Shake hands with organizers and speak with the local residents. People will remember your friendly demeanor at the event as they will be inclined to speak positively about your real estate business with others. There’s nothing wrong with telling people that you are in the process of obtaining your real estate license now and start building those relationships early. Of course, you won’t be able to do anything that would require a real estate license, but there aren’t any laws against getting to know people in the area. Show You Are an Expert in Emails, Social Media and Personal Interactions After taking real estate classes Los Angeles, you've gained the knowledge to help people with their real estate dreams. Yet you also have to show them that you are a local expert. You can do this through your correspondence, social media accounts and interactions with clients. Once you get your license, you’ll need to define the areas where you’ll want to build your real estate practice. Study the properties in those areas and the overall market on sites like www.dqnews.com and in the Multiple Listing Service. Over time, you’ll get to know the types of properties in those areas, the number of certain residential properties (single-family homes, duplexes, and multi-family structures). Also, you've gathered the data about recent home transactions, buyer trends, and average sales prices. Take all of this data and pepper it throughout your emails, newsletters and social media sites. Drop in facts that will draw in a person's interest and convince them to take the next step in calling for your services. You want to impress them with the market insights that you've gathered as they will feel confident about your skills. In addition, you want to do the same at face-to-face meetings and appointments with clients. Showing people that you've done all the real estate homework will allow you to gain repeat business and positive reviews that will help your career. By immersing yourself in community events, attending government meetings, and sharing your local expertise through social and other media, you can solidify your position as a top real estate expert in the local market. It’ll be easier to convert leads into real estate transactions by showing your in-depth knowledge about local market trends. As always, please call my office at 888 768 5285 or visit our website for information on real estate classes online or in the classroom. If you are getting ready to prep for the real estate exam and you need a real estate crash course click here. Always looking to bring you value. Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

Is Now A Good Time to Get Into Real Estate?

Birds eye view of houses in new housing development neighborhood

Are you thinking about enrolling in real estate license courses? If so, your first thought may be whether or not now is a good time to start. How’s the market doing? A career in real estate can

Are you thinking about enrolling in real estate license courses? If so, your first thought may be whether or not now is a good time to start. How’s the market doing? A career in real estate can be very rewarding and it all starts with the right real estate school. The U.S. Department of Labor reports the demand for real estate agents and brokers will grow by 7 percent from 2018 through 2028, a rate that’s faster than average for all job growth. Demand is out there for well-qualified, dedicated agents willing to learn the industry from the ground up. Should You Enter a Career in Real Estate? Timing Is Everything Those wondering if they should become a REALTOR often ask themselves whether now is the right time based on market conditions. The short answer is that while your initial timing can matter remember that getting your license now can open the door for years, no matter how the market swings in the short term. Here are some answers to common questions: #1: What Is the Market Like? The real estate market grows and expands on a consistent basis. There are times when market activity can and does cool like back in 2008 and 2009. However, the current market remains robust with the possibility of ongoing appreciation. Put that aside for one moment, though. Remember that people are always buying and selling real estate no matter what the market does. Keep in mind that there are always consumers looking for their first home or to downsize after the kids move out. There are always new developments and opportunities. In other words, there is always the need for a qualified real estate agent. #2: But Is The Economy Slipping? While there are valid concerns over how long the economy will continue to grow at its current rate remember that transactions happen in all economic conditions. More so, many people move into real estate investing when the stock or other markets begins to decline. I talked briefly about this in an earlier article. That’s because real estate is viewed as a safer and more tangible investment for some. This also creates opportunities for individuals looking to grow their career. #3: Are Houses Selling Today? The answer here is “yes” as well. More so, in the long term, there will be an even higher demand for homes. I don’t think anyone believes that the population is going to decrease throughout the United States any time soon. The current economic climate has helped push home values high. A combination of low interest rates and high demand have sent prices soaring in many areas. In some areas, they are simply out of reach for some buyers. As home prices begin to slow their rate of growth, they will become in reach for more consumers, especially those looking to buy their first home. Homes are selling and will continue to sell. Starting a Career in Real Estate - Is It Right for You? People will always be buying and selling homes. Demand will ebb and flow. Real estate agents committed to providing a high quality of service to their clients will continue to see significant demand for their services. Your buyers be might everyday consumers looking for their first home as home prices fall. Or, you may be able to work hand-in-hand with investors who are looking for good deals. Real estate classes help you prepare for every market condition, too. If you: • Enjoy real estate and looking at homes and buildings • Love helping people • Like to negotiate • Want the flexibility of working on your own schedule • Want unlimited income potential A career in real estate could be right for you. You can meet the California real estate license requirements though our real estate school in as little as 54 days and start taking advantage of the current market climate. Once you establish yourself, there’s no telling how the market will work in your favor. A shameless plug, ADHI Schools is the number one real estate school in California. We can walk you through the pros and cons of being a real estate agent. Call us at 888 768 5285 or visit adhischools.com to pass your real estate exam the first time. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Bad Real Estate Agent Habits

Ipad with calendar app open next to keyboard and apple computer

Once you complete our real estate school and pass the real estate exam you’ll be out on your own to start your career. Hopefully you’ll be ready to land your first client and take home a big commission!

Once you complete our real estate school and pass the real estate exam you’ll be out on your own to start your career. Hopefully you’ll be ready to land your first client and take home a big commission! =) After doing well on your real estate license exam, you'll get your desk set up with your broker and start working some leads. You’re probably going to start reaching out to your sphere of influence and let them know you’ve started a real estate career. As a newer real estate professional, the goal should always be to compress the time between finishing real estate school and cashing your first commission check. To this end, I wanted to write a quick article exposing some bad habits that real estate agents can develop if they’re not careful. Remember That Self-Employment Is Vastly Different From a 9-5 A self-employed person is solely responsible for his or her workday. In the real estate industry, it’s a common misnomer that once you pass your real estate exam, you’ll have leads pouring in and homes to sell. That’s not what happens. Instead, you need to work to create your own business. This often means spending time daily working to drum up business, cultivate leads, market, and respond to internet inquiries. Here are a few of the bad habits real estate agents create that virtually prevent them from becoming a successful Realtor quickly. You’re Doing "Busy" Work You’ve ordered business cards. You cleaned up your desk. You have talked to a dozen other agents today about what’s going on in their business and personal life. You may have even touched up your LinkedIn profile and posted a picture of the salad you had for lunch on Instagram.  All of these “tasks” might feel necessary but the bigger question is what did you ignore by doing these things? Are you prospecting for buyer and seller leads? Are you following up on existing ones? In short, it’s easy to “feel busy” without actually building your pipeline, which ultimately cuts into your income. You’re Frustrated with Your Workday There are a dozen calls you have to make today for various reasons. Each one of them could be a lead. Perhaps you have some really good leads, but there’s so much on your plate to do right now that you miss those key opportunities to connect. You’re in and out of the office, forgetting appointments, and not seeing the kids. And, you thought this career was flexible? This is a common concern. The problem is that without any oversight into your activities and a consistent schedule, it’s easy to lose track of what’s important. To be successful as a real estate agent, you have to be organized. You also have to create a schedule that works for you and stick with it. This discipline is actually the key to freedom.  Make time to plan for every task that matters during your course of the day. Remember - The number one calendar item is prospecting. Other Bad Habits Costing You Your Career After completing real estate school, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Here are more of the common bad habits agents have: You aren’t communicating with your prospective clients fast enough. This is especially true for internet leads.  Speed to contact makes a big difference in results.  Make every client believe that they are your most important client. Work to return calls as quickly as possible.  Try and email back as fast as you can. Failing to marketing adequately. If you’re not seen in the local industry, you’re unknown to prospective clients. Make marketing a component of your day, every day.  Remember that there are over 400,000 real estate licensees in California alone - You have to make noise to stand out! You’re not looking as professional as you should be. Consumers expect agents to look professional at all times. If you look disheveled, that could indicate you’re less organized and not “with it.” Not updating your website or social media accounts in quite some time.  Remember, if you haven't posted in a year people will wonder whether or not you are still in business. Send a contract to be signed electronically and tell the client to sign without explaining what they are signing. Being "too busy" to call other agents back. Working 24/7 and not taking care of your health. Getting paid your commission and not setting aside money for taxes. If you finished at our Orange County real estate school don't forget that this is only the beginning.  As Warren Buffett says "The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken."  The best way to break bad habits is to avoid them in the first place. For information on getting a real estate license, call us at 888 768 5285.   Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Legally Removing Items From Your Credit Report

Mortgage lender reviewing a credit score for a new home loan1

As you complete your real estate classes with us, you may come across a buyer client who is looking to “fix their credit” before buying a property. You may also represent a seller who is in escrow

As you complete your real estate classes with us, you may come across a buyer client who is looking to “fix their credit” before buying a property. You may also represent a seller who is in escrow with a buyer and the buyer’s loan starts to go sideways because of an error on their credit report. What do you do? One of the most common questions that consumers ask credit counselors is, "How can I get negative items removed from my credit reports?" The accurate, short answer to that question is this: It's relatively easy to get incorrect information removed from a credit report but can be quite difficult to legally remove items that are reported accurately. In other words, if a debt is yours, and if all the particulars listed on the credit report are correct, they your options for legal removal are limited. The good news is that there are several ways to potentially eliminate negatives from an official credit report, even when the debt is yours and when it's listed correctly. Here are the strategies that many consumers have used to clean up their credit reports: Paying to delete negative items: If you contact a creditor and agree to pay the debt in full right away, then they might consider removing it from your report. This technique is especially successful when the amount owed is rather large and the delinquency is not very old. Many creditors are happy to have a large debt paid off quickly and taken off the books. They'll often agree to remove the item from your report if you ask them nicely, in writing and as soon as possible after it has been reported to the bureaus. Asking for a goodwill removal: After you've paid a debt and the listing is still on your credit report, it's possible to contact the creditor and request that they remove it. It helps to explain that you have otherwise good credit and have been current on any other accounts you have with them. If there were special circumstances that led to the delinquency, be sure to explain the situation to the creditor. This is basically a "hardship" request and doesn't always work, but it's worth a try. Asking for verification of the debt after several years: Bureaus can keep negative items on a report for up to seven years. After one or two years have passed, you can contact the creditor and ask for the debt to be verified. It's often the case that creditors can't verify older debts that have been paid off and closed out. If they can't verify it, then you can have it legally removed by contacting the credit bureau in writing and disputing the debt. Without verification from the creditor, the bureau will have to remove the listing. It's important to remember that only the creditor has the power to remove a legitimate listing from your credit report. In fact, they are supposed to leave items on for up to seven years so that other lenders can get an accurate view of your credit-worthiness by reading your report. But, as in the situations noted above, creditors are sometimes willing to remove a negative item if you approach them with the right attitude. Separately, inaccurate information can potentially be removed by invoking the last strategy mentioned. If you are interested in taking live real estate classes or preparing for the real estate exam, call us at 888 768 5285 or visit www.adhischools.com Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Tips For Real Estate Agents on Social Media

Man holding white iphone logging into instagram app

Tips For Real Estate Agents on Social Media Businesses can’t ignore social media if they want to remain relevant and competitive in today’s busy online marketplace and the real estate business is

Tips For Real Estate Agents on Social Media Businesses can’t ignore social media if they want to remain relevant and competitive in today’s busy online marketplace and the real estate business is no exception. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be powerful outlets that help real estate professionals position themselves as industry experts while connecting with their audience and building confidence in their experience and services. I practice what I preach. Our real estate school has had a Twitter account since early 2009 and a Facebook page for almost as long. Even our original YouTube channel has had content since 2009. That’s 10+ years of going hard on all these platforms. So how do you win considering that more and more content is being added each and every second to Twitter, Facebook/IG and YouTube? It is getting more and more difficult to get noticed. The key to getting the most out of your social media presence is utilizing tactics that help you build stronger connections with your audience and inspire them to work with you. Below, I’ve put together my top 4 social media tips for real estate agents, particularly in the residential space as I figure most of our real estate school students are going to start there. 1. Educate your buyers on the market. Buying or selling a home is a major life decision for most people, and they want to know that they are working with a Realtor that can guide them through the process and answer all their questions as they move through the process. The best way to build this confidence with your audience is by educating them about the real estate market. In addition to sharing educational articles from your own blog, curate some content from reputable, third-party sources to help your audience understand important parts of the buying and selling process. In addition, you can post your own honest tips and advice to your social media pages based on the questions that you are most often asked by new buyers or sellers. 2. Share information on a particular neighborhood. When promoting your listings (or those of your company) on social media, go beyond just sharing the features of the homes you are selling. Most homebuyers want to know more about the neighborhood or surrounding areas. Real estate professionals can use their social media channels to educate buyers on the benefits and unique characteristics of local neighborhoods to help them make a more informed decision about where they want to buy. In addition to sharing your own content about the neighborhoods you sell in, share content from local organization pages. For instance, you might link to an event calendar from the city’s Facebook page or share a tweet from a local restaurant. This is especially true in areas like Downtown Los Angeles or coastal Orange County where the nightlife and social aspects of the community are a lure for buyers. 3. Start a conversation. The social aspect of social media is often forgotten when professionals use social media channels for marketing. However, if you really want to get to know your audience and build trust, it’s vital that you chat with your fans and followers. Get active in the comments section of your social media posts and pay attention to what others are saying on your pages. With the instantaneous nature of social media, most users expect an instant response to their questions or concerns. In addition to being active in the comments section, you’ll need to be diligent about checking for and responding to direct messages across platforms. When someone reaches out with a question or concern, make sure that you are available to answer these questions and get them the help they need when they need it. 4. Don’t forget video! Many real estate professionals will skip video content when it comes to managing their social media pages. However, with the visual nature of home buying, it’s important that real estate agents utilize video to showcase their properties when possible. Most people reading this article have a television broadcasting system in their purse or pocket with their iPhone or Android device. It’s easy to quickly do a live on Instagram or post a quick story to your page. Just get out there and start. I posted a video of all of my equipment here, but I didn’t start with this much stuff. All I had back in 2009 was one camera with an internal microphone and just started recording videos on HD cassettes. I always knew video was going to be huge across the Internet and would be a valuable marketing tool. The faster you can start engaging with an audience the faster you can monetize. Video content also helps create an emotional connection with viewers in a way that images alone cannot. Providing a video tour of a property allows the real estate agent to give their audience a better idea of what it is like to experience this home instead of seeing the space out of context. If you are interested in taking real estate classes online or in one of our classrooms, please call us at 888 768 5285 or visit www.adhischools.com. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Do Open Houses Work?

Open house sign on front lawn outside of house

Before the question of whether or not open houses actually “work” is answered we should probably define what the word “work” actually means. If you are a real estate agent and believe that a

Before the question of whether or not open houses actually “work” is answered we should probably define what the word “work” actually means. If you are a real estate agent and believe that a successful open house is one where the agent found a buyer for that property on the day of that open house then very few open houses actually “work”. However, if you define a successful open house as a chance to network with neighbors in a particular farm area, an opportunity to show the owners that you are doing something that is almost expected, and a way to find buyer clients for other homes, then nearly every open house has the potential to be a success. Like many things in business, a substantial amount of time and effort is necessary to ensure that an open house will attract the right kind of traffic and result in at least a few interested and qualified potential buyers. Sometimes, sadly, even with a high traffic count, the net result might be less than satisfying. While it’s also true that on occasion, "the buyer" will walk into an open house and make it all seem easy, if not preordained - but this can sometimes be attributed to pure chance. Folks who are not quite ready to buy immediately frequently visit open houses as a way to solidify their preferences and explore the market. An open house can be the best way for an agent to meet people "up close and personal," demonstrate market knowledge, hand out cards, and take names. You never know when you're going to meet a buyer. It's best to always be prepared. How to Do a Successful Open House Use all the tools available to you to stand out from the crowd. You don't have to spend big bucks on advertising, or on refreshments. Use technology to your advantage. Here are some ideas: • Livestream the Open House on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: Give quick snippets of information as you walk through the rooms. Talk about the neighborhood, the easy commute to downtown, the community pool, the schools or a nearby shopping mall. Show the house at the same time. • Invite the neighbors: Count them as your allies to "sell" the good points about the area, rather than as "tire-kickers." • Consider Unconventional Hours: If the home has spectacular sunset views, schedule the open house for late afternoon. Or, alternatively, be slightly ahead of the normal 1-3 or 2-4 schedule, and offer coffee or fresh-squeezed orange juice. If you are going to serve alcohol at an open house, other rules can apply. Proceed with caution. I did a video and an article on this as indicated by the prior link. • Creativity Counts: Employ an iPad as a digital sign-in sheet and encourage visitors to ask questions. Get back to them via email with specific answers. You'll boost your chances of developing new relationships. Perhaps most importantly, be there for everyone who walks through the front door. Meet and greet every visitor with a smile and a card. Never simply sit behind a desk or on a kitchen stool. But, be sure to give visitors a chance to walk through the house at their own speed and in their own way. View an open house as an opportunity to sell yourself as well as the property and then every open house is, indeed, totally worth it! If you are interested in online real estate school or even classroom oriented real estate courses, call us at 888 768 5285 or visit www.adhischools.com Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

Interview Tips For Realtors

Real estate agent candidate shaking hands before interview

Once you complete our classroom real estate courses in California or real estate classes online, you’ll need to put your license with a broker if you want to go to work. At this early stage in your

Once you complete our classroom real estate courses in California or real estate classes online, you’ll need to put your license with a broker if you want to go to work. At this early stage in your career, you are probably full of enthusiasm and at the same time have some serious questions and perhaps some lingering fears about whether not you're making the right career decision. One of the most important steps you will take as a real estate salesperson is to choose a broker, the place where you will, in effect, hang your hat along with your license, and build your initial reputation in the field. Whether you're already licensed, or are shopping for a place to take your real estate classes, finding the right environment is all-important to your future. Even though it's not a lifetime commitment, your choice of initial affiliation will affect not only your earning ability, but also your learning curve, your growth potential as a real estate agent, and your long-term success and fulfillment as a professional. Brokers also want to ensure that new agents who join their firms will be compatible, hard-working, knowledgeable, committed, enthusiastic, and a good match for the company culture. How should you evaluate your opportunities? What are the steps to take to assure the best possible fit? To prepare for your interview, expect to be asked the following questions by a potential employing broker: 1. What drives your decision to become a licensed real estate agent? Do you have previous sales experience? Is money your primary goal? How do you intend to support yourself until the sales (and closings) start rolling in?   2. Do you have a monetary goal in mind? If you've given even a little thought to this, you will probably answer this question with a specific dollar figure; then you can go on to explain that you intend to grow your earnings over time to reach your ultimate goal. Also, you'd be wise to impress a potential broker with your knowledge of real estate facts and figures. It's not detrimental to disclose that, in the beginning, you view real estate as a part-time gig, until you can build a reputation and a clientele. This disclosure is important because it will help to understand whether or not the brokerage’s training calendar is going to be a fit.   3. How much time and energy can you devote to the business? Real estate, unlike a 9-5 job, requires evening and weekend work, coupled with high levels of client accessibility. A broker will want to know that you understand the time commitment, as well as the energy it takes to see a transaction from listing to closing, or from initial contact with prospective buyer to the accepted offer by the seller and the escrow ultimately closing. Real estate can be an extremely rewarding -- and profitable -- profession. But it requires knowledge, dedication and commitment. Show a broker those three qualities, and you'll be on your way to a mutually beneficial association. If you need help being placed with a broker or are considering the first steps to real estate licensing or passing the real estate exam, call us at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

How likable are you?

Female real estate agent smiling while conducting meeting

With hundreds of thousands of real estate salespeople in California alone, clients have choices. The million dollar question is “On what basis will the client decide?” This can be a hard thing to predict,

With hundreds of thousands of real estate salespeople in California alone, clients have choices. The million dollar question is “On what basis will the client decide?” This can be a hard thing to predict, especially If there are two real estate salespeople that are equally competent, have similar experiences and both work for reputable companies - the client might make a decision on who to hire based on pure “likability”. If one agent is more “likable” than another who do you predict will get the business? It’s not hard to assume that the agent that can win the heart and mind (in that order) of the client is going to get the contract signed. Because clients are often concerned or nervous through the real estate process, the agent should strive to be the kind of salesperson that brings good energy and enthusiasm into every presentation they go on. It has long been said that sales is simply the "transfer of energy from the salesperson to the customer”.  The more energy and enthusiasm you exude, the more likely the client will sign. Still, there are some real estate salespeople that are the personification of negativity and create roadblocks through the sales process. We have all met people like this. You know the type - they walk into a room and all the plants begin to die and when they exit they spring back to life. I would urge all of our readers to examine which of these describe them. Are you the kind of person that brings vibrance and energy to every interaction or are you the exact opposite? When you walk into a room is there a big grey rain cloud over your head? If you aren’t sure how to answer this, have a look at people that you would characterize as being in each of the two groups. Positive and energetic or negative and draining? Consider the group of people that you know. Think of five or ten people that you know who are real energizers. You probably can think of a few right off the bat. Who do you know that when they show up, when they call the energy is better because of their presence? Who are the few people that you know when they walk into the room the energy shifts to the “dark side”? Believe me. People notice. This is important because your likability impacts how much business you're able to do. So what are some things that we can do to immediately increase likability? The first thing I would urge is to be interested in other people. If you have ever read the classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie a recurring theme is to try and make other people feel special by being interested in them and their story.  It’s pretty simple - be interested. Be interested in other people and who they are and what they are about. People that are interested in others are infinitely more likable than those that are not. In a nutshell:  Try harder to be interested than be interesting. Another thing to increase that “L” factor is to always leave people better than you found them. In the case of real estate, that could be a critical market update to a buyer or seller. It could be an escrow update to one of your current deals but always look to add value at each and every interaction. There’s plenty of pessimism in this environment - you don’t need to look hard to find it. Be the person that's optimistic and lights up a room each and every time they are in it. Not only will this be better for your physical health, it’ll be better for your wallet. If you are interested in real estate classes in Los Angeles or online real estate school call us at 888 768 5285. Love, Kartik
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The Benefits of Classroom Learning for Real Estate Licensing

Real estate textbooks and ipad on desk inside of classroom

In order to become a real estate agent in California, applicants must complete courses in Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice as well as one Elective course. Although there are a number of options

In order to become a real estate agent in California, applicants must complete courses in Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice as well as one Elective course. Although there are a number of options available for necessary pre-licensing coursework, there are specific benefits of a classroom scenario to advance your real estate career goals. The give and take of personalized education provided by a knowledgeable and experienced real estate practitioner can outweigh the flexibility and convenience of other choices. Here's why: Motivation Online courses allow learners to work when it best suits them, but they are also easier to skip. Pre-licensing coursework requires a minimum of 135 hours of coursework; if you're not sure of your ability to maintain an unwavering schedule without some structure, classroom time can help. By blocking out a specific time and place for class on a regular basis, many students find that the tendency to procrastinate or postpone is eliminated. Interaction with Others There is no substitute for the "up close and personal" attention that classroom real estate courses offer. Students have the ability to ask questions and receive immediate clarification often learn faster and retain information longer than those who simply listen to a presentation online or click through slides. An online classroom is, essentially, a one-way street; interaction is limited, even if visual aids are used and chat room communication is available. The dynamic in a physical classroom is different; interaction with other students is every bit as important as discussion with the instructor. People Skills Because real estate is, at its heart, a people-oriented business, association with individuals from varied backgrounds and with different skill sets is always instructive. The classroom can help you hone your people skills, assist you to address unique needs, and open your mind to the varied approaches that must be employed to work with different personalities. Even if role-playing is not a formal part of the curriculum, students in a classroom situation benefit from the mix, and learn to develop a personal style. Professional Networking A classroom provides an opportunity to form business associations with other career-minded individuals, and to develop a professional network of both mentors, "cheerleaders" and motivators. The requirements for real estate licensing and the need to pass state licensing exams can be daunting. Classroom participation with a group of like-minded people offers a "first step" platform into the world of real estate, helping to sustain your motivation, gain professional stature and grow your business. That's an ongoing career benefit. If you're serious about pursuing a real estate career, it's only natural to feel an eagerness to get started. It's also natural to want a "good deal" financially. Although classroom learning may be slightly more costly on the front end compared to an online option, the above benefits are likely to pay dividends by allowing you to pass the licensing exam with confidence and to start earning sooner. As in any other field, the old saying, "Time is money," holds true. Enrolling is a real estate class is an investment in your future. Choose wisely. For more information about real estate licensing or getting a real estate license in California call us at 888 768 5285.
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to Dispute Erroneous Information on a Credit Report

Mortgage lender reviewing a credit score for a new home loan

Errors can happen on a credit report. What causes these errors? Sometimes it can be something as simple as a father and a son who have the same name and the only difference is a “Sr.” or “Jr.”

Errors can happen on a credit report. What causes these errors? Sometimes it can be something as simple as a father and a son who have the same name and the only difference is a “Sr.” or “Jr.” What if son paid a few bills late and this incorrectly appears on Dad’s credit report? Worse than the above scenario is a customer who may have been the victim of identity theft. Perhaps their social security number and date of birth were compromised on a website and sold to criminals. Each year we read of many major corporations who have had their databases compromised. Equifax, eBay and JP Morgan Chase are just a few examples of large corporations that have been targeted by hackers. Where then does a customer turn? The Federal Trade Commission has several recommendations for those that genuinely believe that false and erroneous information appears on their credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates that the credit bureau and creditor have a collective responsibility to correct and update any incorrect information in the customer’s credit report. The individual with erroneous information on their credit report should send correspondence to the credit bureau that has displayed this erroneous information. This could be either Experian, Transunion, or Equifax or could potentially be all three. Mail correspondence isn’t required, however, as the individual can file their dispute online. If the customer is sending their dispute via mail, the Federal Trade Commission has a sample dispute letter available on their website and this letter can act as a starting point for anyone seeking to eliminate inaccurate information from their credit profile. In order to increase the chances of incorrect and incomplete information being deleted from the credit report individuals are encouraged to support the claim with any proof that the data is incorrect. Examples of this proof could be cancelled checks or bank statements showing that the bills were paid on time or the fact that the debt is no longer even valid. In some cases, the customer might have paid off the debt and it is still reporting as open on the credit report. Combining the letter or online dispute with substantiation that the information is inaccurate will increase the chances of having incorrect information deleted from the credit report. The FTC recommends that this substantiating documentation not just be sent to the credit bureau but also to the creditor with whom the customer is disputing the incorrect information. This may increase the chances of incorrect information being deleted from the credit file. If this doesn’t work the customer is able to leave a note in their credit file next to the “incorrect” trade line stating that the customer disputes the accuracy of this information. Generally, the credit reporting agency must investigate the disputed items within 30 days of the dispute being filed. However, the law has an exception for the credit agencies wherein they don’t have to investigate a dispute that they deem to be frivolous. in the event that a credit bureau is going to investigate a disputed item, they are required to forward everything received from the customer over to the creditor. Once the investigation is complete, the bureaus are required to give the customer notification of the outcome of the dispute in writing. They are also required to provide a copy of the credit report to the customer in the event that the dispute resulted in a change to their credit report. Statute also requires that the credit bureau provide one copy of a credit report to everyone for free each and every year. A customer who is disputing information on their credit report that results in a copy of their credit file being sent to them will still be allowed their one free credit report per year. What this means is that a customer who is disputing credit information in their file may end up with multiple credit reports per year at no charge. Because credit scoring can affect so many aspects of a person’s life, the government has a system in place to ensure that incorrect information on a report can be disputed and ultimately deleted. Hope is not lost in the event of identity theft or an incorrectly reported late payment. There is a dispute process in place and will work if done properly. The Federal Trade Commission’s sample dispute letter can be a great place to start. As always, if you are considering getting into our great real estate business, you'll need to go to real estate school first.  Need help passing the real estate exam?  Check out our test prep site here.   Love,   Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to Improve Credit Scores

High score excellent credit report on desk

So you’ve finished up at our real estate school and passed the real estate exam. You're stoked because you have your first buyer client but their credit is less than perfect. The buyer badly wants a

So you’ve finished up at our real estate school and passed the real estate exam. You're stoked because you have your first buyer client but their credit is less than perfect. The buyer badly wants a home and you’re asking yourself: What advice can I give them to improve their credit score? The reality is that credit scores today have a profound impact on quality of life. It determines the rates you pay on all sorts of things from mortgage interest rates to whether or not you can rent a car. The difference between good credit and bad credit can also determine where and how you live. Make sure that only accurate information appears on the credit report It makes sense that a borrower would want to be sure that their credit report contains accurate information. Any inaccurate data can be disputed with the credit bureaus. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the three bureaus and can be contacted to dispute erroneous information. If your borrower isn’t sure how to start the dispute process there are third party providers that can help quarterback this with the credit agencies. I would recommend checking online or with other folks in the business that can give you a good referral to a vendor that can help. Pay down revolving debt Assuming that all the data on the credit report is accurate, the next question is “What else can we do to bump up the score?” One thing that can quickly impact the FICO is to advise the borrower to pay down as much revolving debt as possible. This is known as the “credit utilization” ratio. This ratio is a big deal as it accounts for about a third of the FICO algorithm. The less credit you have available the worse your score will generally be. In other words if all your credit cards are maxed out, your score is probably going to be low. Do your best to get credit card debt paid down quickly to improve the credit utilization ratio and get that score up. Try to get added as an authorized user Another thing that can help bump the credit score is if the borrower can convince a family member or a loved one to add them to one of their credit cards. If mom or dad has a credit card that has a solid payment history and they are willing to add the borrower as an authorized user, this can help piggyback their on-time payments to boost the score. Make sure bills are paid on-time A central aspect of good credit is ensuring that the borrower pay their bills on-time. An easy way to do this is to calendar all required payments on a cell phone or Google calendar. Better yet - back up the calendaring with autopay. Autopay eliminates the aspect of human error and also eliminates wasted money spent on a bunch of late fees. Better still - auto pay eliminates the worst case scenario of an altogether missed payment. One missed payment means a catch-up scenario for the borrower and forces them to make two or more payments at once. Letting bills pile up can make it really hard to dig out of a deep hole. Think long-term with your buyers Remember that selling real estate inherently involves a very long sales cycle. Even if your prospect can’t buy a property immediately, they may be able to with some future planning. A year is going to go by quicker than you might think. Do you plan on being in the business in 12 months? I would think so. Sticking with a prospect even when it looks like they might not be able to buy immediately will create loyalty and your deal will eventually come to fruition. As a real estate professional, it’s important to be a valued resource for your clients. Giving great advice can help foster loyalty among your customer base. This can be priceless and irreplaceable. As always, if you are interested in online real estate courses or even live classroom courses, call us at 888 768 5285 or visit www.adhischools.com. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Can a Realtor Serve Liquor at an Open House?

Alcoholic cocktai s served in backyard of open house

OK – So you took our real estate classes in Los Angeles or maybe you took our real estate classes online. Now you have your license and it’s time to do your first open house! You’re hoping to make

OK – So you took our real estate classes in Los Angeles or maybe you took our real estate classes online. Now you have your license and it’s time to do your first open house! You’re hoping to make some great connections with potential clients and you want visitors to roam through the home a little longer. What do you do? Bribe them with ice cream? Booze? Both? If you decide to serve alcohol at your open house and you don’t have a liquor license (no agent is going to have one) it’s important to ensure that the open house is not open to the public. If you are serving alcohol and your open house is open to the public you need to have a liquor license to do it. Want to serve liquor at an open house? There are other rules too: There can’t be any sale of alcohol It’s important to make sure that there’s no actual sale of alcohol happening at the open house. Agents typically don’t charge for liquor at an open house so this isn’t something that most real estate agents have to worry about. The premises cannot be maintained for the purpose of keeping, serving, consuming, or disposing alcoholic beverages. If you’re doing an open house at a residential property, it’s pretty unlikely that the premises are going to be maintained for the purpose of serving liquor. It’s a residential property, it’s not zoned commercial, it’s not zoned retail restaurant or bar. So this second rule isn’t going to be a problem for most real estate agents. The event should not be open to the “general public” at the time alcoholic beverages are served. In the hospitality world, this is known as a “private party exception”. For the private party exception to be invoked, the person doing the open house has to have a list of guests prior to the event. Only people on the list are permitted to be admitted to the event and it would become a “private party”. This means that if somebody does show up at your open house and they’re not on the list, you have to turn them away. If you’re serving alcohol and you let them in the event could be interpreted as being “open to the public” which could trigger a licensing requirement. The list of attendees is important to maintain and should be respected. Finally, it’s hard to overstate the amount of liability that the agent can incur in the event the agent allows alcohol to be served to someone that is underage. Agents can also be liable in the event that they continue to serve alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated or is “habitual drunkard”. So be smart about it. Make sure that if you are serving wine you need to have proper protocol that’s being followed to make sure we limit our liability at these open house events. As always, if you are interested in taking real estate classes in Los Angeles or in Orange County please visit www.adhischools.com. Feel free to call the office at 888 768 5285.Love, Kartik
Real estate market analysis

Buying a house?! Be warned - Wire fraud is on the rise!

Internet security link

Hi all: I wanted to give my readers a bit of a public service announcement with this article. Recently, 74 people were indicted on wire fraud related to real estate purchases. How does this scheme

Hi all: I wanted to give my readers a bit of a public service announcement with this article. Recently, 74 people were indicted on wire fraud related to real estate purchases. How does this scheme work? Hackers are locating people who are in the process of buying a home or other real estate. The hacker then spoofs an email from the escrow company that you are using for your particular home or building purchase. Wiring instructions are sent saying something like, “Your down payment’s should be sent to our escrow company. Here are our routing number and account numbers.” As it turns out, that’s not the routing number nor is it the account number of the escrow company, and hardworking Americans send their money to these scammers. If you’re in the process of buying a piece of real estate my hope is that your escrow company is shares this information with you. It is absolutely mission critical that you call the escrow company, speak with the escrow officer, and verbally verify the account number and routing number. Don’t just rely on things that have come via email. You could find yourself the victim of wire fraud. I’m so happy that almost 100 people have been indicted and taken off the streets so that they can’t harm future purchasers. The tip here involves ensuring that you call the escrow company directly. Another pro-tip is not to call the phone number on the wiring form that comes via email as that could also be fake. Call the number that you find for them on Google or on Yelp, and verify that you’re talking to the right person before you wire that money in. Better yet – stop by and talk to someone face to face if possible. Here is a link to the news article about the 74 people that have allegedly committed this crime. If I haven’t gotten to know you on Instagram, I would love to. I’m @kartikspics. Also, we have a YouTube channel linked here – make sure you subscribe to the channel! As always if you are interested in taking real estate classes online or even live real estate classes let us know. If you need state examination prep, we also have you covered! Love, Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

Understanding off-the-top fees as a Realtor

Rolled up dollar bills

Recently, I’ve been getting many questions regarding “off-the-top” fees that real estate companies charge their agents. If you are working at a real estate company, you are probably subject to

Recently, I’ve been getting many questions regarding “off-the-top” fees that real estate companies charge their agents. If you are working at a real estate company, you are probably subject to some kind of commission split between you and the company. Imagine it's 60/40, 70/30, 80/20 - whatever it is you'll have some split with your broker. This means that you will get a portion of the real estate commission and your brokerage gets a portion of the commission. Generally if you go work for a massive franchise like Century 21, Coldwell Banker, RE/MAX or Keller Williams, they are also going to have an “off-the-top” fee. Remember, this is in addition to your commission split. Typically, this is anywhere between three and eight percent of the total commission. This represents a royalty to the franchisor. So Keller Williams corporate in Austin, or Coldwell Banker corporate in New Jersey gets a portion of your commission before you do. . As an example, let’s say you earn a $10,000 commission and your company charges a 6% off-the-top fee. Before your commission split is calculated the company will take $600 out of the $10,000 and send that to Coldwell Banker in New Jersey. Now you have $9,400 left. Your commission split will be calculated on that $9,400. Once you finish taking real estate classes, you are naturally going to interview with various real estate brokers and an important question to ask is “What’s my commission split?” However, you’ll also want to ask if there are there any other fees that are deducted before the commission split is calculated. Some brokers will charge an errors and omissions insurance fee for professional liability insurance. Some brokers will charge you a document scanning fee, or some other “desk fees” to work there. As a newer agent these are questions that you need to ask of the broker and be as educated as possible so you are fully aware of what you're getting into. If you are interested in taking real estate classes in Los Angeles or Orange County, please visit our website. If we haven’t yet connected on Instagram I would love to get to know you - I’m @kartikspics. Love, Kartik
Real estate market analysis

What’s more important: Cash flow or appreciation?

Real estate investment

Many of you taking our real estate classes to obtain your real estate license are probably also interested in real estate investing. I recently came across a real estate deal that I want to tell you

Many of you taking our real estate classes to obtain your real estate license are probably also interested in real estate investing. I recently came across a real estate deal that I want to tell you about. Some things make it a good deal, some aspects of it make it less desirable, and I'll let you know about many of these in this article. There is a local airport with some adjacent land that was deeded to the city on the condition that the property is used for either airport or retail use. The city owns the land, and a real estate investor went to the town and said, "Hey, I'll lease this land from you." The investor's ground lease totals about $1,000,000 per year to the city and he proposed a very long-term lease. The city agreed. After securing the ground lease from the city, the investor went to the hardware store Lowe’s and told them, "Hey, you can rent this land from me, and you can build another Lowe’s. I’ll lease the site to you for $2,000,000 per year." Lowe’s agreed. The investor is now in a “sandwich” position between the city and Lowe's. That is, Lowe's is paying about $2,000,000 a year to the investor, and the investor is then paying roughly $1,000,000 per year to the city. This ground lease produces about $1,000,000 a year in net operating income to the investor. The financial benefit to Lowe's is that Lowe's gets the site built and can start operating in the location. The advantage to the city is that they collect ground rent, and the benefit to the investor is that they profit from the difference between the two leases. Now the question becomes, "What are the risks associated with this investment? What are the benefits? What are drawbacks?" Well, one real risk the investor has is that if Lowe's goes bankrupt or decides to close the store rent may stop. We've seen many retailers, even major ones, close over the last several years. Consider Mervyn's, Circuit City, Borders, and Fresh and Easy. There are a ton of examples of large retailers with their back to the ropes. Giants like Macy’s and Sears and getting squeezed as the internet pounds away at these traditional brick-and-mortar retail models. In my investment example, the ground lease expires in 2053, so the person that's leasing from the city has contractual obligations for a good number of years. Before making a decision, an investor would have to look at the Lowe's lease abstract. An essential examination of the lease would investigate the length of time Lowe’s remains obligated to pay. Do they have any outs in the contract? For example, do they have the right to terminate the lease before the expiration? Imagine if Lowe's terminated in 2035, the investor might still have another 18 years remaining on their ground lease. This could be horrific for the investor. As of the time of this writing, the investor is selling their position in the lease at an asking price of $11,400,000 as of the time of this writing. The question is, is this a good investment? I've pitched this to a couple of my investor clients, and many initially seemed interested. However, after they slept on it they start to think, "I don't own the real estate, so it's just a pure cashflow play - I don't want to pay $10,000,000+ for it”. Number two is when you own the real estate, of course, you benefit from depreciation and a lot of other tax advantages. You don't have that in this instance because you're not buying the fee simple ownership. I wanted to write this blog and open your eyes to the fact that there's not only one way to invest in real estate. You can invest in cash flow plays. You can invest in appreciation plays. Hopefully, you're getting a little bit of both, but this is a deal that is not an appreciation play in all. It's the exact opposite. Remember that as time goes on, this deal becomes less and less valuable because Lowe’s lease obligation decreases as time progresses. The cash flow is finite and as time goes on, the time you have to collect the rent from Lowe's decreases. So, if you're interested in investing in real estate, I'd love to talk to you. I come across a ton of deals each week that I'm calling people on. There are flip opportunities and investment opportunities and syndication. If you want to bounce a deal off me and talk, I'd love to hear from you. If you want to know how to pass the California real estate exam or are interested in taking real estate classes anywhere in California check out www.adhischools.com. You can also visit our state exam prep site at www.crashcourseonline.com for more information. Our office can be reached at 888-768-5285. Don't forget to connect with me on Instagram personally @kartikspics. I'd love to see what you're up to on and offline. I will catch you on the next one.   Love,   Kartik
Real estate licensing stuff

Do this BEFORE you get your real estate license

Purchase contract in front of realtor and prospective home buyers

I was up in the high desert a few days ago and spoke to a group of students who had recently finished our real estate school and work for Alam Realty. While I was speaking to them something came up that

I was up in the high desert a few days ago and spoke to a group of students who had recently finished our real estate school and work for Alam Realty. While I was speaking to them something came up that surprised me. Many of our recent graduates had clients that they were working with within just days of getting their licenses issued. I pulled the broker aside and I said, "Mohammad, how are these guys hitting the ground running so quickly? Most new agents have a 60 to 90 day period where they're still learning the purchase contract. They're still learning how to get customers. They're still kind of getting their feet wet. Your team seems to be doing well very soon after getting licensed. Why is this?” Mohammad said to me, "Kartik, you don't remember I do a class here on Tuesday nights." Turns out that every Tuesday he does a real estate class on sales skills. He also teaches the purchase contract and provides tips about the industry before they get their license. This got me thinking about what you could do (no matter where you live) as a current student of ours to hit the ground running. One mistake that I see a lot of people make is they're so focused on preparing for the real estate exam test they think, "I'll learn about the contract and pick a broker later on. Let me focus right now on passing the test.” While that's semi-true I would highly recommend that you start learning about the business and about the industry early in your journey. Don't wait until you get your real estate license to do that. There's no law against you learning the purchase contract or reading the listing agreement now before you get your license. There's no law against you shadowing a successful real estate agent. There's no law against you attending a sales meeting before you get a license. There's no law against you interviewing with real estate companies. I would try to get immersed in the culture as early as possible as the state will take four to eight weeks to process your exam application. What that means is even after you pass the three courses and you apply for the exam it can take a long while before you're taking the actual real estate exam. It’s super important to build momentum through the licensing process. Again, one big mistake that I see a lot of people make is that a lot of students are so focused on the test that they don't think about what's going to happen after they get their license. You don't want to run out of steam early in the game. Remember you don’t yet have a license so you might not be able to solicit for customers. You're not going to have a Supra lock box or an eKEY now but there's a lot of things that you could be doing now that will make sure that you obtain success quickly. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Social Media is Not Real

Cell phone on desk with social media likes and hearts icons

I recently received an email that went like this: "Dear Kartik: “I'm addicted to social media and I can't get over how successful all these real estate agents on Instagram seem to be.  I see every

I recently received an email that went like this: "Dear Kartik: “I'm addicted to social media and I can't get over how successful all these real estate agents on Instagram seem to be.  I see every other realtor on 'the Gram' closing what seems like an endless amount of real estate transactions and I can't seem to keep up. I've done eight deals so far this year and I compare myself to other realtors online and it seems like I'm doing so much worse than they are. How do I break my addiction because I keep comparing myself to other people online?" This is a very good question, actually. I think that a lot of people these days are addicted to their cell phones and specifically to social media. I mean, the addiction to our phones and technology has gotten so bad that the latest version of the iOS operating system actually has a screen timer showing the user how much time was spent on their phone. Anyway, there was actually more to this email. The writer had actually listed a few agents that seemed to be doing really well on Instagram and I used a system called Broker Metrics to look up how many deals these agents had done. Turns out that he author of the email had actually done MORE deals than the agents that he was comparing himself to! Now, I know that there's different ways that you can count how many deals you did. I understand that sometimes transactions can be co-listed or maybe you're on a team and the offer was written in the name of your "team leader" and you didn’t get credit through the MLS. I understand all that. But, it's important to remember that the things people put on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter are the most pleasant parts of their lives. Society picks and chooses what they want to share with the rest of the world. All these posts to is try and control your perception of their reality. Remember to keep the following in perspective: 1.  Much of society is addicted to technology. Particularly their cell phone. 2.  A subset of that society is admittedly addicted to social media. 3.  Not everything that you see on social media is real. So, it's important that we stop comparing ourselves to people online because more than half of it is fake. So, go back to work. Focus on what makes you successful. Closing real estate transactions, helping clients, stacking cash and building a career. Forget what everybody else is doing online. You could spend your whole life on the sideline watching what other people are doing, or you can get in the game, play and win. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to Use Social Media to Get Business as a Realtor

Real estate agent showing their social media apps on an iphone

How to Use Social Media to Get Real Estate Business Social media is one of the most important ways to get business today. Most people are on their phones interacting in the digital world at least as

How to Use Social Media to Get Real Estate Business Social media is one of the most important ways to get business today. Most people are on their phones interacting in the digital world at least as much as they are with the physical world. Nurturing relationships online through outlets like Facebook and Instagram can help build trust and brand recognition between you and a prospective client. To better understand how people in the real estate business use social media I recently met with a good friend who works at a large mortgage company in Orange County. When I met with her for a recent interview she was working with an escrow company and helped build their business using the power of Instagram and Facebook.  She was kind enough to share some insider tips on how she uses social media, specifically Instagram, to gain followers and new prospects.In this interview, I was able to find out three key things: • What she posts • When she posts • How she decides what to post Danielle Benevides has done a great job building this escrow company using Instagram. Here is the gist of our interview, which you can also watch in full here on my YouTube channel.The main takeaways from our interview are these strategies: 1. Merge your personal and professional accounts into one. 2. "Like" other people's posts and engage with them. 3. Reach out to your followers by sending them messages. 4. Post at times when people will be more engaged with social media, such as before work, during lunch, after work and before bed. 5. Post updates that present you as a productive and successful professional, such as you going to an open house, you meeting with clients, you selling a house and so on. Be personable and relatable through these posts. 6. Find an Instagram account in your field that you admire. What makes it so successful? Ask yourself are there models that you can copy before you start doing your own thing? It’s important to not blatantly rip off others and be authentic as you consider this strategy. 7. When you build a following, you can do more and gain an even bigger following. It’s easier to go from 15,000 followers to 20,000 followers than to go from 0 followers to 5,000. Scale is important. How Danielle Benavides Uses Instagram to Gain Business Danielle: "Basically, I'm very intentional with what I post on Instagram. I'm very intentional about who I add. It's all a very methodical process. Something I encourage agents to do is to merge their personal profile with their business one. So far, that's really worked to my benefit. By merging accounts, I'm exposing what I'm doing in my daily routine, such as being out with new clients, visiting an open house or doing anything related to business. I'm posting these things and people recognize it. I'm also liking other people's photos, which establishes an online relationship." Kartik: "Some people think that the business page and personal page should be separate. You don't think so. Why?" Danielle: "I think it should be all in one. It's time-consuming to go back and forth and log into different accounts ... I hear from agents that they don't even log into either their personal or business profile. When you're trying to juggle two accounts, you won't have the best results." Kartik: "What about people who didn't grow up with technology or those who may think that social media isn't relevant to their business?" Danielle: "I work with some clients who aren't really into social media. I encourage them to at least try it out because it is something that they should put into their business. Social media can be a huge part of their success." Kartik: "What is a good engagement strategy for those who want to get started?" Danielle: "What I have found myself doing is that I will purposely go on Instagram and start liking pictures of real estate agents that I follow. I even go into my search bar and find real estate agents I know. I seek them out and message them if I want to, like send a DM about my escrow services. You're not working that hard to send a message online. It cost me more gas and time to visit friends than to touch my phone and start sending messages." Kartik: "A lot of people struggle about what content to post and when they should post it. What do you do?" Danielle: "It's important to post at certain times of the day when people are more likely to look at their phones or check social media. • Before 9 am: Lots people get to work between 7:30 and 9 am and check their social media with a cup of coffee. • Noon during lunch. • After 5 pm: Work is over and people have some downtime. • Between 8 and 9 pm: The day is usually done and there's some wind-down time before bed. Kartik: "What are your end goals with social media?" Danielle: "My goal is to continue building my following and use it as a tool to get business. I also want to be a leader in my field. I want people to use me as an example, just like the people I look up to on Instagram. I try to follow their methods and implement them into my strategy."   Learn More About Real Estate and Social Media Once you build an audience around yourself, you can monetize and build your brand even more. I'm so thankful to hear some expert tips from someone who has used Instagram for her business with real results. If you’ve considered taking online real estate classes visit our website here. If you want to take real estate classes in Los Angeles or in Orange County we have you covered also! To learn more about using social media for real estate, subscribe to my YouTube channel here. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

5 Things I Love About Home Ownership

White modern home sold

5 Things I Love About Home Ownership No matter what you’re selling a basic belief in it is critical. It’s hard to sell something that you yourself don’t see value in. I genuinely love real estate,

5 Things I Love About Home Ownership No matter what you’re selling a basic belief in it is critical. It’s hard to sell something that you yourself don’t see value in. I genuinely love real estate, and there are countless reasons why. Because of this, I have no problem talking about it with everyone I meet. However, for this blog, I’ll limit myself to just a few reasons.Here are five things I love about homeownership.1. Fixed PaymentsWhen you get a home loan with a fixed interest rate, you lock in your payment for the next 15 to 30 years. Your payment is locked – even if the world around you changes. This means your payment will stay the same even while the cost of living is guaranteed to increase over time. This predictable and stable payment will help you plan financially without the fear of increased living expenses.On the other hand, if you rent, your payments are virtually guaranteed to increase as demand and population increase.When you own your own home, your housing expenses are locked in, which only gives you more margin because you’re not continually paying more to live at the same property.2. Likely AppreciationOver time, the value of your home is likely going to increase. Just how much won’t be the same every year, but on average California real estate goes up 4 to 8 percent annually.In some years, values may rise more than 20 percent, and in bad years values can go down — but everything ultimately averages out to a steady rate of appreciation between 4 and 8 percent.Without any effort you’re going to get richer through appreciation.3. StabilityOwning a home gives you a measure of stability and certainty in your life. You also get more control over basic lifestyle decisions without having to ask a landlord for permission. Do you want to paint your walls? Go ahead! If you want a dog, you don’t need to ask your landlord or pay a pet deposit — after all, it’s your house.Also as I mentioned before, fixed payments provide a static housing expense that won’t go up with inflation. In an uncertain world, this is a good thing.4. Forced SavingsIt doesn’t matter if you’re frugal or not — owning a home forces an increase in net worth over time.Even if the value of the home never goes up, the mortgage balance is going down through the process of amortization. This forces you to build some level of net worth even if your property isn’t appreciating.In California, you’ll gain more equity by an ever-decreasing mortgage balance, which will give you access to funds in the future. If your home appreciates, so you’re getting richer on both ends — with both a decreasing balance and higher home value to give you more equity.5. Your Home Is an AssetYour home and other real estate form part of your estate, which can be left behind for future generations. The fact that your house is passable to others helps leave behind a legacy and keep wealth within your family.As a renter you are getting value in that you have a place to live temporarily, but the big picture is that you are helping pay off your landlord’s mortgage with ever-increasing monthly payments.I understand that in some markets people have the position that it is cheaper on a monthly basis to pay rent compared to a mortgage and that (in theory) that difference could be reinvested elsewhere but the truth is that so few people actually do that. For most of us, if we have money in our pockets we tend to spend it.Learn How to Buy and Sell Homes in CaliforniaDo you want to take real estate classes and get into the exciting world of buying and selling homes? Are you ready to share the benefits of home ownership with others? Then find out more about real estate classes in Los Angeles or even online real estate school today!
Real estate market analysis

Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate Down

Bank of china building

Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate Down Some of the most significant players in the U.S. real estate market are Chinese investment groups. In fact, if you check out our Foreign Investment Study,

Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate Down Some of the most significant players in the U.S. real estate market are Chinese investment groups. In fact, if you check out our Foreign Investment Study, you’ll find that 1 in 14 residential properties that sold for over a million dollars was sold to either someone from Hong Kong, mainland China or Taiwan. Chinese investments in U.S. real estate have long brought health and vitality to the U.S. real estate market. That said, Mark Heschmeyer from CoStar reports in his article Already Down, Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate Evaporates in First Quarter that if you compare the first quarter of 2017 with the first quarter of 2018, Chinese investment in U.S. real estate has gone down a staggering 75 percent. This is a significant piece of news for real estate investors and agents for a lot of reasons — one of them being that Chinese investors have long been stimulating the U.S. economy. When 85 to 90 percent of foreign investment in U.S. real estate slows down, so can development and job creation. Mixed Signals and an Update Just a disclaimer: Nobody knows for sure if this trend is likely to continue or if in a few quarters things will return to the way they were. In fact, recently Costar reported that the American arm of Wanxiang Group Cos. acquired the Prudential Plaza Office Complex in Chicago for a cool $680 million, exceeding all the investments made in the entire first quarter of this year. As you can see, this situation is still very much up in the air. What’s Causing This Overall Decrease? Heschmeyer suspects that one factor that may be causing Chinese investment in real estate to dwindle is that the Chinese government has enacted new legislation that has pushed a lot of Chinese investment toward Europe and other parts of Asia rather than here in the United States. Selling Current Holdings Another trend is that these groups are selling their current U.S. holdings – thereby increasing supply. Recently many large deals have involved Chinese investment groups acting as as sellers-disposing of their U.S. real estate assets.Right now these are just large investments. For example, in February 2018, a Chinese investment group sold New York’s 1180 Sixth Avenue for $305 million and 19 East 64th Street for $90 million. These are just a couple of the large U.S. holdings that Chinese investment groups have sold off. What If You’re Investing on a Smaller Scale? If you’re an investor in smaller properties, you may be watching this situation closely to see if it will eventually affect you. As an onlooker, here are some questions you may have: 1. Is this an ongoing trend? Are Chinese investors going to be continually pulling money out of the U.S., or is this just a short-term reaction to legislation and things will return to normal in a few quarters? 2. Will this start affecting smaller deals? Is this the catalyst of a trend that will eventually trickle down to smaller properties like a $500,000 home or a $2 million building? Will we lose out on these smaller investments that help our economy and development? In reality, nobody has definitive answers to these questions at this time. The only thing that we can be sure of is that Chinese investment in U.S. real estate has dropped precipitously, but we’re not sure if it will stay this way. Tell Me What You Think Do you think that this trend will trickle down to smaller assets? Do you think this drop is only temporary and that it won’t affect smaller holdings? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? How do you think it will affect the overall economy? Current Events and Real Estate Great agents stay on top of what’s going not only locally but also internationally. This awareness helps them tailor their sales and marketing strategy. Starting your real estate education off on the right foot can make all the difference in the world. Learn how great real estate agents operate in the landscape of constantly changing legislation, buyer behavior and marketing trends at ADHI Schools. Love, Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Are We in a Real Estate Bubble?

Houses inside bubbles

Are We in a Real Estate Bubble? A topic of debate in our industry these days is whether or not we are in a real estate bubble. With supply still relatively low, housing starts that don’t keep pace

Are We in a Real Estate Bubble? A topic of debate in our industry these days is whether or not we are in a real estate bubble. With supply still relatively low, housing starts that don’t keep pace with demand and prices inflated, my impression is yes. What do you think? First, I want to follow up on a video I recorded earlier this year. I reflected on a tour I did of some new construction where Lennar homes had built homes within homes – sort of like an in-law suite. I then discussed what I suspected to be a real estate bubble brewing, even back then. Back to the Mini Homes These mini houses were built because Lennar might have suspected that housing prices in California had become so unaffordable that buyers would actually need demised space inside their homes so buyers could have their parents, children or tenants rent out the smaller space to offset the mortgage payment. The builder might also have predicted that joint families are becoming more likely for a greater number of buyers. I spoke of an affordable housing crisis that had to come to a head somehow. Read on for some California market statistics that have me concerned: The Numbers Say It All In San Francisco County, the median home price as of Feb 2018 was $1.73 million. There was a strong increase in appreciation in San Francisco county because in January 2018, the median home price was just $1.33 million. I’m located in Southern California, so naturally, I was interested in local statistics too. As of March 2018, the median home price was $805,000, but in January 2018 the median price was $780,000. Frankly, I’m a big believer that we are in a bubble. It’s no secret that many in the real estate business don’t want to admit that the economic environment for housing might be in bubble territory. But I’ve been saying that we’ve been in a bubble for the past year. Why Are Prices Increasing? Prices are always some interplay of supply and demand. Supply could be defined as the number of houses on the market at any given time and demand refers to the number of qualified buyers. We have had constraint in supply for the last few years relative to demand. The number of houses on the market in most areas just isn’t enough to satisfy the demand. This has caused prices to increase and a reduction in marketing times. According to the California Association of Realtors the average time to sell a home in California has recently been as low as 18 days! Low supply coupled with relatively high demand because of low interest rates and other factors have resulted in an extreme amount of appreciation. I believe that this isn’t sustainable and the market must balance out eventually. Why the Correction Might Not Be as Extreme as the Previous Recession Despite the fact that I am a believer in the law of entropy I’m fairly confident that the next real estate market correction is unlikely to be as pronounced as the 2008 crash. This is not to say that another correction might not be worse, but I predict that the upcoming one should be a softer landing. It’s no secret that underwriting standards are pretty conservative these days. People generally have to qualify for financing and submit a bunch of documents to prove their financial ability to repay. There aren’t as the same number of stated income and stated asset loans out there that precipitated the 2008/2009 crash. What will happen and when? We can’t be sure. Maybe it will be an international geopolitical event, maybe a domestic event or something else significant that will cause the market correction. Maybe interest rates edging up will cause the market to shift. I just know that these prices aren’t sustainable. A Brief Update: July 2018 This blog was based on statistics I found in earlier in 2018. Current stats from the California Association of Realtors state that the median price for homes in San Francisco have decreased to $1,620,000 as of the time of this writing. However, this is still a 7.9 percent increase of what the median was in May 2017. In Orange County, the median home price has risen to $838,000, which is a 5.4 percent increase from its value in May 2017. In short, the numbers still support my theory that we’re in a bubble. What Do You Think? Leave a comment on my YouTube video on this topic here. I would love to know what you think. Do you think I’m right? Am I wrong? Do you think these prices are just the new normal? If you are interested in real estate classes in Los Angeles or even an online real estate school, check out our website here.
Getting started in the real estate business

How to Choose a Real Estate School

Licence

How to Choose a Real Estate School I know that many of you who are considering our real estate school are also cross-shopping — as you should. During this decision process, you're going to look

How to Choose a Real Estate School I know that many of you who are considering our real estate school are also cross-shopping — as you should. During this decision process, you're going to look at our program and stack it up against other real estate schools, community colleges and online schools. This makes sense, because smart shoppers do their homework.This is why I want to take a moment to explain why our program might be a good fit for you. The Numbers Speak for Themselves First off, you should compare our pass rate for the real estate exam with the current statewide statistics. In a recent month, there were 3,987 people who scheduled to take the real estate exam. Out of those scheduled, 3,494 showed up. Of the 3,494 that took the exam, only 46 percent passed that month.As a potential real estate agent, it’s very important to align yourself with an education program that has a proven system to give you the greatest chance of passing the exam - the first time! Why Does Our Program Work? I chalk it up the overall process of our entire program. We're going to provide you with excellent support, flexibility on when and how to take classes, a great faculty and solid course materials. • Full-time support: Our knowledgeable and friendly staff is available five days a week, Monday to Friday. Our representatives are all professional and highly trained. Compare this with smaller real estate schools that simply don’t have the resources that we do. • Flexible locations: We have many brick and mortar locations if you want to do the classes with a classroom component. This definitely plays into the convenience factor when you're trying to find a school near your home. Here's the best part about it: You get unlimited access to any of these locations' classrooms for twelve months! So, if you need a place close to your friend's house or dentist's office, we have your back. We also have online classes too if your schedule is more scattered. • Great online real estate classes: No other online school in California has the amount of video that we do. These aren't amateur videos either, but instead are done with professional lighting and audio and great camerawork to ensure you have the most professional set of real estate materials available. • High-quality instructors: Our faculty is simple the best out there. All of our instructors are extremely professional and knowledgeable. Some of our teachers have been presidents of large real estate organizations. One was even the VP of the global MLS. Another has done over 700 short sales and foreclosure transactions during his career. These are not isolated cases, each one of our instructors is screened for their teaching ability and personality before we hire them. • The right course material: When you take classes with us, you'll get three tangible college-level textbooks, not just PDFs. You get that "real school" feel by having a solid book in your hands. These textbooks contain hundreds of practice questions to help prepare you for the real estate exam. • Convenient (and affordable) crash courses: Start out with a bang! Our upper-tier  packages also include an intense (and fun) two-day live crash course.  This is going to give you the skills and knowledge needed to pass the real estate exam - the first time! Try It Before You Buy Naturally, you don't want to commit to something before you have a chance to try it out. That's why I'd like to offer you a free guest pass. With this pass, you can visit any location of ADHI schools at no cost or obligation.To sign up for a physical classroom guest pass, go to the main part of our website, scroll down and then enter your email in the information box.  We will immediately send you a guest pass. Come hang out with us! We would be excited to have you in the classroom! If you can't come in person, you're welcome to try out one of our online classes. Sign up for a trial account of our online real estate school. Scroll to the bottom of the page and check it out! Shop Smart I highly encourage you to compare our programs side by side with other real estate schools that you might be considering. I'm confident that you'll find that we have much more to offer than the competition.At the end of the day, you need to make the right decision for you. However, I think you'll be very happy if you choose us. Check out ADHI Schools today! - Kartik
Getting started in the real estate business

Costs To Become a Realtor Explained

Student counting money for real estate license cost

What Does It Cost to Become a Realtor®? To start, we should differentiate between a “real estate licensee” and a “Realtor”. Remember, that to become a Realtor, it’s not only the exam and

What Does It Cost to Become a Realtor®? To start, we should differentiate between a “real estate licensee” and a “Realtor”. Remember, that to become a Realtor, it’s not only the exam and license fees, but also association of Realtor’s membership dues that you have to pay. I’ll discuss all of these through this blog post. A little plug – Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram,and subscribe to our YouTube channel. It’s also important to keep in mind that prices for real estate education, exams, and licensure will vary state-by-state. That said, let’s look at the costs below. The main expenses you’ll incur on this journey are: Statutorily required pre-license education Classes at our real estate school currently range between $150 and $499. The price difference depends on whether you want to take the classes online or with an in-person component. Our online classes are great and our in-person classes are legendary. It’s really up to you. One other thing – please keep in mind that these prices are subject to change. While we haven’t raised the prices of our program in years, depending on where and when you read this post, things may have changed. The best thing to do is check our website or call us at 888-768-5285. Also, realize that some states do not allow the future real estate professional to take their classes online. Arizona, for example, requires that you take classes in person. California allows you to do either or a combination of both. Check with your state to determine what the requirements are. Exam fees In California, the current cost of the real estate examination is $60 for salesperson applicants and $95 for the broker exam. If you happen to fail the test, the state requires that you pay this fee again. Pro tip: Don’t fail the exam. Study with our amazing real estate exam prep site here. Not sure what the difference between the sales license and brokers license are? Check out our video about this here. License fees/criminal background check The fee mentioned above is only for the exam. The state of California requires that you pay a license issuance fee as well. This is $245 for the sales license and $300 for the broker license. This fee is to be paid every four years when the real estate license is renewed. You’ll also need to go through a Livescan criminal background check – even if you’ve been through this before. This will cost $49 to the Department of Justice in California plus whatever the livescan operator charges. Typically it’s another $20 on top of the $49. Association of Realtor dues + joining a brokerage If you’re a residential real estate professional, you will need to join the National Association of Realtors, the California Association of Realtors, as well as join a brokerage in order to do any act that would require a real estate license. Your board dues will cost between $1,000 and $1,500 per year depending on the association of Realtors that you choose. Joining an association is mission critical as membership will provide you: ◦ The MLS (The most accurate database of current and former real estate transactions and tax information) ◦ Zipforms (ultra-convenient program that helps you draft complete contracts) ◦ E-Key (grants access to show properties) Join a brokerage Each company offers unique fees to agents that join them that vary. You may have a monthly office fee, website fee or pay up front for photocopies. You’ll want to interview a few of them first to make sure that you’re in the right spot. Optional Expenses Just because I’m terming these “optional”, it doesn’t mean that they’re not important. Being a full-time agent requires paying careful attention to your image online and in the community. Investing in these following items can boost your reputation. • Getting professional headshots that are updated yearly can cost between $100 and $500 per session, depending on the photographer you use, nature of the photo shoot and number of photos you need. Accurate and good-looking professional photos are important in order to appear credible to new prospects. Imagine a fuzzy, outdated, 10-year old MySpace selfie being used on an agent’s website and business card. This looks lazy and doesn’t help the agent gain credibility. When you take the time to invest in your professional image, it helps win the trust of new leads. • When it comes to marketing and promotion expenses, the sky is the limit. Your marketing expenses will depend on how much you want to invest in these: ◦ Boosting posts on social media: $5-as much as you want to spend. ◦ Open houses: Varies depending on how much food and drink you’re providing. ◦ Fliers and ads: Physical fliers are still necessary in many cases. The costs are minimal if you have an office printer and a set amount of prints you can do per month. Postcard marketing is also a tried and true method to gain new seller leads. We recommend our affiliate farming.cards listed here. Get Your Real Estate License in California If you want to know more about getting a real estate license in California, feel free to contact us today. -Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

Ways to Market in the Real Estate Business

Group of women strategizing about marketing

Ways to Market in the Real Estate Business   It's impossible to build a successful real estate business without developing and maintaining a healthy sales pipeline. One obvious way to drive

Ways to Market in the Real Estate Business   It's impossible to build a successful real estate business without developing and maintaining a healthy sales pipeline. One obvious way to drive sales is to have a deliberate marketing effort, but with so many ways to market yourself as an agent, it can be daunting having to choose between so many marketing channels. In this post, I’ll go over a few of the most effective to help build your marketing roadmap. As always if, you are interested in online real estate classes or a live real estate school, visit adhischools.com. Networking One of the easiest and least expensive ways to market and raise awareness about you and your business is to start networking. In the physical world, this could be something as simple as handing out your real estate business card to people you meet and letting them know what you do. Although the person to whom you gave your card many not have an immediate real estate need, consistent networking can lead to a long line of referrals. The best part: This word-of-mouth promotion is free, and you never know who they will meet with real estate needs.You can also participate in local community events, particularly if you are in residential real estate. Whether you hang out at the farmers market or have a booth at a street festival, being involved in the area in which you sell will make people more inclined to work with you. Set a goal to recognize as a resource for local real estate.But what about networking in the digital world? This could mean maintaining social media accounts on popular platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. There are different ways to reach people once you're signed in. Don’t forget to post helpful and interesting content (like I do with our blog *cough* *cough*) adding friends, liking other people's posts, sending direct messages and more. After you meet someone in person, don’t be shy about asking to connect on Facebook, or following one another on Instagram. Make a conscious effort to reach out online, especially after making a personal contact. Setting a Marketing Budget While not a law, realtor.com says that you should be spending 10 percent of your commission income on marketing. Overall, have your spending match the caliber of what you're trying to sell. Compare the marketing associated with a starter home and a luxury mansion - they are totally different. If you’re interested in learning more about the luxury real estate market, check out my YouTube video.In most real estate markets nationally, the starter home is going to get plenty of interest solely based on price, so you may just need to create a listing in the MLS to get interest and have a few nice photos up. The luxury market, however, can be more competitive and particular, so save your money for extravagant and decadent open houses, professional photography/videography and promotions you will do throughout the listing period. Paid Promotions While on the subject of a marketing budget, there are plenty of ways to promote yourself that are worth the investment. Here are just a few ways to use your marketing budget to the max. Boost your SEO According to the National Association of Realtors, 90 percent of people searched for their home online. Increase your online search rankings in a local home search. ◦ Consider pay-per-click Google Ads to get your page higher in the paid search results. ◦ Hire someone with SEO knowledge to make your website organically rank higher. ◦ Increase your presence online by paying for premium memberships on listing sites like Zillow and Realtor.com. You can gain more visibility as potential buyers browse what's available because your profile will be featured while they are swiping through. • Pay to boost your social media posts to reach people outside of your normal friends list on platforms like Facebook. • When it comes to direct mail, utilize the services of a professional postcard marketing company like www.farming.cards to get your name and message into the homes of potential customers. Be Memorable Great marketing that is consistent will keep you fresh in the minds of your leads and contacts. When you are out there promoting your business and winning the trust of your sales pipeline, guess who your contacts are going to call when they have real estate needs? Don’t Neglect the Direct Sales Approach Also Marketing is great, but don’t forget direct sales. Work the phones, door knock and directly engage your customer. All of the aforementioned are totally F-R-E-E. =) Learn More at ADHI Schools Effective marketing is key to becoming a successful real estate agent. At our real estate school, we'll teach you strategies for becoming an excellent self-promoter and a real estate powerhouse! Register for ADHI Schools today! - Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to Dominate a Farm in Real Estate

Bus stop bench with blank advertising space

How to Dominate a Farm in Real Estate   You've finished your real estate classes and passed all the tests. It's official: You're now a licensed real estate agent. All those sleepless nights

How to Dominate a Farm in Real Estate   You've finished your real estate classes and passed all the tests. It's official: You're now a licensed real estate agent. All those sleepless nights filled with studying alluvium soil and the laws of the land have added up and paid off. After you put the blast the good news on Instagram, the question hits you: What next? Starting off in real estate is at once the most exhilarating and scary times you'll find yourself in. After all, real estate agents aren’t in short supply, especially if you’re in Los Angeles or Orange County. The question becomes how do you pick a specific market area and get the majority market share in that community? Breaking into high-end, luxury real estate isn't for the faint of heart nor for those who are off put by the idea of getting their hands dirty. This market is especially challenging for those with no prior experience, connections or repertoire. However, this doesn't mean there isn't a way to to get the job done. I’m warning you: It's will take work. (But hey, nothing worth having comes free — or in this case, without immense effort on foot.) In order to get your name out there for those in your target market, your first step is to farm that area. What Is Farming in Real Estate? Farming a market is when you select a geographic or demographic area to focus on in hopes of growing your brand and ultimately your market share in that area. As time passes, you consistently nurture the market you've selected to farm through various marketing tactics that, over time, allow you to be seen as a trusted member in the community. Though geographic farming (as opposed to demographic farming) is generally thought of as the more common of the two forms of farming, both can lead to big breaks for newcomers to the realty world. Consistency Is Key To successfully break into your target market by farming, you need to be consistent. Farming is a long-term investment — not just financially. It's all about building and maintaining relationships with those in the community, and that takes consistency on a regular basis. While you strive to make your name a well-known one in your selected area, you can work on building trust and connections by means of consistent communications. You can keep members of your selected community up to date with any new trends or events in their neighborhood by sending biweekly postcards — appropriately branded. Knowledge is King It's now a basic job requirement to stay on top of any and all changes that may occur in the market you're farming. Know if there’s a new shopping center being built in the area. Understand any new zoning changes that might be taking place in the near future. Keeping up on these changing market dynamics can be critical in continuing to bring value to your farm area. For example, door knocking with the latest pumpkin pie recipe is great around Halloween, but what about communicating recent sales in the area? If prices have risen or fallen it would be valuable to share this with owners in your farm area. People love talking real estate - especially if it directly impacts their community. Plan For Return On Investment (ROI) When you're first starting out, it can seem like you're constantly dodging bullets and climbing hills. Needless to say, things can seem pretty daunting with a minimal client pool and little experience. Hey, that's why you're farming, after all! There's nothing to be ashamed of about being the new agent in town, but that's no reason to remain stagnant.The great real estate agents know that having a plan and executing it properly is mission critical. Make a budget and set achievable ROI goals. While time, progresses and your year march on, you can alter your initial plan with the insights you've gained thanks to new connections within your farming area and a better understanding of the people within the market.It's also important to bear in mind that farming by definition is a long-term thing. Awareness Is Key Being seen as the go-to source of knowledge in the area you're farming is the end goal. It means you're trusted and respected within the community, and have proven to be a reliable source. Once you've established your role as the neighborhood's professional real estate agent, you'll have direct lines to various homeowners in the area. By coming around consistently and sharing valuable neighborhood and household insights, you're raising awareness about you, your brand and the service you provide. Also possible - the more people you know the more referrals you are going to get. Keep in mind the law of numbers is alive and well - especially in real estate sales.At times, your real estate journey may seem daunting, but with proper farming, you'll have a positive rapport in the community and numerous satisfied clients in your phone. Follow up with them with intent and determination. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from nearly 20 years in this business is that consistency is king. Want to take real estate classes? We offer online real estate education as well as live classroom real estate courses. Let us know how we can help. =)   -Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents
Getting started in the real estate business

The Importance of Follow-Up in Sales

Real estate agent calling clients and prospects to follow up

FOLLOW UP IN SALES   If you have ever sold anything, you know that it’s extremely rare that a sale is made on the first contact. Even for something as benign as a shirt or bag, the customer

FOLLOW UP IN SALES   If you have ever sold anything, you know that it’s extremely rare that a sale is made on the first contact. Even for something as benign as a shirt or bag, the customer may need to come back to the store or review the item online a few more times before committing to the purchase.  Before you enroll in a real estate school, it's important to be aware that real estate sales is just that - sales.  Follow up is probably the most important aspect of the sales business. Much of the time, it will take at least 3-4 contacts before your customer signs. In the case of real estate sales, it might take even more contacts as the sales cycle can be longer given the transaction size. Even though this is a fact of business, most sales people don’t follow up nearly enough or as hard as they should.Reaching out to customers after an initial contact makes several positive impressions at once.   Here are just a few of them. Follow-up and follow-through show your client: • You're trustworthy. • You're available. • You care about their experience. • You think they're special. Mastering the art of the follow-up helps you become a more successful salesperson. • You learn what the customer expects or wants. • You give a customer the chance to be heard. • You can convert a contact into a lead. • You make the contact more inclined to work with you over other agents. • You stay fresh in the customer's mind. Even if they're not ready to buy/sell right now, they may be later. With so many benefits, you should definitely pursue following up as a key prospecting strategy to help you nurture leads and build more business.   How Many Times? Statistics about agents who followed up more frequently versus those who didn’t are staggering. A recent report shows that agents who follow up on their leads five or more times made at least $200,000 per year. Those who followed up less frequently, even three times, reported significantly less earnings.To many of you, three times seems like a lot already, but it looks like five times is the magic number. Real estate depends on many tenacious sales tactics like this one. If you need to overcome the fear of prospecting, remember that the sale is made in the follow through, not in the initial contact. The Nature of an Effective Follow-Up If you're not following up with customers, you're setting yourself up to fail. The real estate game is all about gaining new prospects and leads. As such, you must constantly build your sphere of influence, your pipeline and ultimately gain the trust of new people.But before you pick up the phone or hop on the computer, you should take some time to review the best practices of a follow-up. It's more than just randomly calling people you meet. You need to contact people intentionally. • First, have the right attitude. Sit up straight and exude confidence in your body language and voice. Your customers can sense if you're not sure about what you're selling. • Follow up with hot leads first. These are the people who are most likely to become clients. You will get a higher success rate when you prioritize hot leads. Plus it’s easier to build your confidence with warm and hot leads rather than “leads” that are unlikely to buy. ◦ Segmenting your contacts is a valuable habit that will help you determine which contacts are more likely to lead to a sale — and therefore more worth your prospecting hours. Try cutting your prospects into groups of “hot” “warm” and “cold”. You must define what “hot” “warm” and “cold” mean. To me, a hot lead is one that will sign a contract in the next five to seven days. ◦ Follow up with a new lead within the first day. ◦ A hot lead should be reached every day ◦ Contact cold leads on a less frequent basis, between monthly and annually, depending on the nature of their real estate needs. Hit multiple channels Some people prefer one kind of contact method over the other, so being present on multiple channels can do wonders in reaching them. Here are a few to try: ◦ Phone calls ◦ Emails ◦ Text messages ◦ Social media DMs ◦ Event invites ◦ Direct mail postcards (check farming.cards as a valuable tool). Vary your approach You can make direct calls some days or use softer marketing techniques at other times. Sometimes offering informational content reaches leads without seeming too "salesy," such as sharing home-buying tips on a blog or advice on HVAC repair in a video. Learn Real Estate Marketing and More at ADHI Schools This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a great real estate marketing strategy. When you take our online real estate classes, you'll learn the ins and outs about becoming a great agent who can nurture great client relationships.  Follow up is a critical part of that.   -Kartik
Practical advice for real estate agents

I'm a Successful Realtor! Should I Hire My First Assistant?

Realty company members breaking hand over hand after a meeting

I recently received an email from a former student who asked me a question that every agent is bound to ask after getting busy. Whether you are taking real estate classes in Los Angeles or going to our

I recently received an email from a former student who asked me a question that every agent is bound to ask after getting busy. Whether you are taking real estate classes in Los Angeles or going to our real estate school in Orange County the below is applicable.   The email goes like this: "Dear Kartik, I'm doing well in real estate and I think it's time to hire my first assistant. How do I go about finding someone, and when did you hire your first assistant?"   I'll answer his questions here.   How Do You Go About Finding an Assistant? Overall, to hire someone, you need to take the following steps: • Create a job description of the tasks you need performed. • Properly screen candidates. Don't make impulse hires! There’s a great saying “Be slow to hire and quick to fire!” Good advice. • Offer them a fair wage to reduce turnover. After you hire someone, you should ... • Train them well. • Stay on the same page with your goals. • Run your business by the rules created at the beginning but be willing to bend. My Experience To fully answer my student's question, I'll also explain my first hiring experience. I hired my first assistant four years after starting real estate, mainly because I had a lot of plates in the air at once. I was running my real estate brokerage business and working at the real estate school at the same time. Naturally, I was feeling overwhelmed.I actually feel like I got lucky with my first assistant. In fact, she's still working with us as the manager of our real estate school. I never screened an applicant before hiring her, but just ended up with a great assistant who stuck with me for the years to come.However, after gaining some experience in hiring more employees, I can now give you some real pointers. Write It Out The first thing I'd advise you to do is write out the job's description. What do you personally feel overwhelmed with? Do you need a personal assistant who can get your car washed one time a week and pick up your dry cleaning? Or, do you need a real estate assistant who can organize your files, input your listings into the MLS or oversee photographers and videographers? Hire someone who has experience doing these tasks or get someone who is willing to learn them well. Properly Screen Candidates In reality, hiring someone is always a little bit of a crapshoot. You’re going to do all you can to examine resumes and make applicants take personality tests, but there's always an element of luck in the hiring process. However, properly screening your candidates can reduce the chances of making hiring mistakes. Here are some basic rules to follow: • Don't randomly hire. Too many agents hire friends or friends or a spouse who was laid off, and then five months later they wonder why it didn't work. • Avoid impulsive hires, even if you're in a rush. • Check out their resume and make sure they have a background in the tasks you are giving them or are a good fit to learn. • Use personality tests and other assessments, but don't let the scores define their destiny. I've seen someone who was told he didn't fit the agent personality profile become a successful broker and start his own company!   Prevent Frequent Turnover Good talent usually sticks around with good pay, so offer a fair wage to eliminate turnover. After all, who will stick around if you offer just minimum wage? I've had people stay with me for five years, 10 years, even 14 years. Why? It's because I always think about how I can put more money in their pocket.I ask myself how I can make them more money ... because when they're making more money, I'm making more money, and the company's making more money. Pay your employees a fair wage and they'll not only work hard for you — they'll stick around. Train Them and Have Accountability After you hire someone, you'll need to do some degree of training. You should also hold them accountable for staying on task. Many agents like to have periodic meetings or phone calls to set goals and objectives because being on the same page is important. Whatever frequency you feel you need to communicate is up to you. I have some members of my sales team that I literally call three or more times per day. This might be a bit much for some of my readers, but it is what it takes when you are getting something off the ground from scratch. Play By The Rules Now that you're a boss, you need to make sure that you have all your legal ducks in a row. Have worker's compensation insurance for your assistant and withhold the right amount of taxes. Make sure the people you hire are properly classified as either independent contractors or employees. Learn From the Best Congratulations on getting to a point where you can hire your first assistant! I wish you the best of luck in the hiring process and hope you find the right person to join your growing business.If you are looking for the right real estate school, check out our website for real estate classes, or call us at 888-768-5285.
Practical advice for real estate agents

Starting a Successful Podcast

Female real estate agent in purple dress recording a podcast

Lots of people ask me how I find time to write as much content as I do and record as much video content as I have over the last many years.  A lot of people have viewed our YouTube channel at my real

Lots of people ask me how I find time to write as much content as I do and record as much video content as I have over the last many years.  A lot of people have viewed our YouTube channel at my real estate education company and want tips on how to create video content and podcasts.  I decided to write an article about this from the perspective of the real estate salesperson.  Since the vast majority of people reading my blog or watching my videos aren't really looking to start an education company, rather they are looking to get into the real estate brokerage business.   It's important to remember that real estate sales is just that - it’s sales! The more customers and clients you have the more money you’ll ultimately make. But how many potential clients can you reach a day by cold calling and door knocking? No matter your answer, podcasts can increase that number exponentially and expand your reach. Consider the facts: • Over a quarter of Americans listen to a Podcast monthly. • In 2018, over 50 billion episodes were downloaded and/or streamed. • Podcast listeners are wealthy, educated and loyal. • The average podcast listener tunes in to seven episodes per week. • California has the highest number of podcast subscribers of any U.S. state. Recording a branded podcast is a distinctive and effective way to tap into this potential market — even more than paid advertising. Your podcast will put your voice and message in the homes and cars of potential clients in a way no other tool can. Podcasts position you as an expert in a given field. Choose Your Topic and Message You have something unique to offer listeners: your real estate experience and expertise. Buying and selling a home or building can be stressful, and most people see high-end real estate as daunting, too difficult to manage or something "other people" do. Your podcast can bring transparency to the process and clients to your doorstep.Choose a topic for your show that is specific to you and sounds great. A narrative or talk-show format can work well. It should be something you can discuss for 100+ episodes. Once your podcast becomes popular, you can broaden your topic. To get started, however, a frame to work within will help you stay focused.Your topic should also support the underlying message you are trying to convey. Always ask yourself what you want your listeners to leave your show knowing or wanting. Find Your Voice There are lots of different styles of podcasting. Choose one that aligns with you. Will you interview guests on your show? Maybe interview past clients or your broker? Converse with your co-host about real estate trends? Take your audience on audio tours of designer homes? Talk about investing in real estate? Regardless of what you decide to go with, it should sound natural and practiced. Give It a Name Listeners will decide whether to listen (or not!) by your name. It should be something that captures the topic as well as the message you are trying to send. A clever or witty name will grab your audience's attention. Is there a word or phrase that captures your mission? A regional phrase that is recognizable to potential local clients?Avoid names that are too specific. Instead, select something that is memorable, searchable and available as a domain. Your listeners will want to engage in your content across platforms. Your Podcast can drive your listeners to your YouTube channel, your Instagram or other platforms. If you don’t have these created - do it now! These will provide additional ways for you to attract clients and listeners and give you more credibility and provide additional ways for your audience to connect with you. Respect your audience Podcasts convey your message directly to your subscriber. They are intimate and create a connection between listener and host. Treat this relationship as though each listener is a client. Hopefully they will be! Practice, practice, practice.  Just hitting record isn't enough to make your show worth turning in to hear. You may find that writing a script gives structure to your recordings. Or, if a more informal style is what you are after, try to stay on topic.Your audience will expect consistency. If you are going to produce a weekly podcast, don't skip a week!  Choose a format and schedule that works for you. On the ADHI Schools’ YouTube channel, sometimes I will record 3-6 videos per week and leave these stacked away in a Google drive. This way, I always have content to bring to the community. Invest the Time and Money Buy proper recording equipment. This doesn’t have to be a big expense, and it's worth it in the long run. Nobody wants to listen to a muddied recording. You will need to edit your podcast for long pauses, errors or content that isn't relevant. One of the affordable and easy to use software options on the market will help. I recorded a Podcast about the audio equipment we use, but your setup doesn’t have to be this elaborate. Join the Community The podcasting community is tight-knit and supportive. Listen to other podcasts. These shows aren't your competition — they're your biggest resource. Inviting guests from other podcasts onto your show can help you make connections to potential listeners or clients. Take Real Estate Classes If you are interested in taking real estate classes in Los Angeles click here. Our real estate class schedule can be found here. If you want to call the office, please do so at 888-768-5285.
Real estate market analysis

Zillow To Start Buying Houses

Brand new home sold in new housing development

Zillow has recently announced that it's going to start buying and selling houses. This is a surprising move because it feels like the website is jumping 2 to 3 steps ahead of what it's currently doing

Zillow has recently announced that it's going to start buying and selling houses. This is a surprising move because it feels like the website is jumping 2 to 3 steps ahead of what it's currently doing with the "Make Me Move" offer system, which is merely a seller's way to gauge what the interest would be for their home if they listed at a certain price. What are the details of this new development with Zillow? How will this affect buyers, sellers, and real estate agents? Zillow Instant Offers This is a concept that Zillow is currently testing only in the Phoenix and Las Vegas area. The company is basically acting as the principal in real estate transactions. Zillow is launching their Instant Offers concept in these specific markets to offer homeowners "greater control over the selling process" and a "more predictable time frame" for the sale. This program bears some similarity to the way Opendoor or OfferPad work, offering convenient and quick sales at the expense of the best sales price. Speed is the name of the game. What It Looks Like on the Seller's Side A homeowner in the area who wants to sell their home can give Zillow their address and answer an online questionnaire about the home. Zillow will then make an offer on it. If the seller agrees to the price, then there will be a home inspection. Then, a Premier Agent will be chosen as the listing agent to close on the deal. The Buyer Side If a private buyer is interested in a property that's for sale in those areas, he or she can send an email to Zillow and tell them they want to buy it. If the numbers make sense to the company, then they'll then wire the money over to the owner. The buyer gets the house, and the seller gets to move. It's all meant to be a quick and seamless process. What about Real Estate Agents? In short, Zillow intends to keep agents in the selling process, but the program will benefit a select pool of agents. However, the company is confident that they're giving agents highly motivated leads, saving them time and hassle. If Zillow buys the home, the company will pay a real estate commission to a premier agent that they'll select as the property's listing agent. This means that ordinary agents who haven't paid to be promoted on the website will be excluded. Zillow explicitly states that the program will benefit only "pre-selected partner Premier Agents and brokers" at this time. As you know, it costs money to get into this inner circle, so it will be up to the individual agent to determine whether this investment will be worth it. Another detail is that Zillow will be teaming up with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona. As we find out more about this partnership, we'll let you know about it. What happens to the home if Zillow buys it? If Zillow buys the house instead of a private buyer, then the company will fix up the property and resell it. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the company aims to buy the houses below market value in order to flip them for a profit. This naturally means that the seller might not profit as much as she could have if she sold her home in a more traditional way. If Zillow's offer is turned down by the seller, then the homeowner is free to sell the home through an agent on the open market. The company's Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Wacksman expresses the modern homeowner's need for a quick sale at the expense of not selling for top dollar,"[Homeowners] want help, and while most prefer to sell their home on the open market with an agent, some value convenience and time over price.” Tell us what you Think What's your take on Zillow's latest move? As a homeowner, would you sacrifice profits for convenience? In today's fast-paced world, there are always going to be attempts to make the process of selling a home become quicker. The Value of an Agent Though selling in the open market with an agent from the get-go may take longer, homeowners get the peace of mind that they are going to sell for the highest price possible and have access to expert real estate advice throughout the whole process- not just the closing phase. If you have any comments, please post below.  Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for all the latest news and information on the real estate market.  I recorded a YouTube video on this Zillow development. You can check that out here. If you are interested in becoming a real estate agent and taking real estate classes through our company, please visit www.adhischools.com or call us at 888-768-5285.  
Real estate licensing stuff

How I Got Started in Real Estate Education

Empty classroom for a real estate prelicensing course

I get this question a lot:  "How did you start teaching these real estate classes? What's the story behind your school?"You can listen to my podcast about it here, or read on. Long story short — it

I get this question a lot:  "How did you start teaching these real estate classes? What's the story behind your school?"You can listen to my podcast about it here, or read on. Long story short — it happened by chance.ADHI Schools is a brainchild of my passion, education and past experiences. Ultimately, I combined my love for real estate and teaching and turned it into a real estate school.   It Started With a Love for Teaching   When I was going through college in the late '90s and early 2000s, I taught the SATs to disadvantaged high school students. Back then, parents of means could pay for SAT prep classes for their kids, but kids without money didn't have the same advantage.This disparity meant that average students couldn't prep as well as those who had access to the premium classes that cost thousands of dollars. To make matters worse, they didn't have the internet to help them. Today, people with tenacity and focus can learn just about anything on the internet — however, back then, there was no YouTube or online schools to give them a leg up.During this time I spent teaching the SATs, I developed a love for showing others how to thrive and be successful through education. It was exciting to empower people and level the playing field in the age of little to no internet.   I Saw the Sign   After I finished college and got my real estate license, I joined a brokerage. There was a sign behind this office that advertised a real estate school. I was just starting out and didn't sell anything for about three weeks. Although this is not a long time to not sell anything in real estate, I was particularly over-caffeinated and impatient, so I decided to try to pick up a side hustle.I called the 800 number on the flier and a man picked up. I asked him if he needed help teaching these classes. I also asked him out of curiosity how much it paid. When I heard that the pay was $60/hour, I called that man twice a day for a month until he finally relented and gave me a chance. He offered me a spot in Norco. I reviewed the material and taught the class, giving my best effort.The next day, the owner of the school called me and asked me how I thought things went. I told him that I thought things went pretty well. He responded, "Well, actually, all of them called simultaneously and asked for a refund, but I like you. If you're willing to try, there's another class you can take over once a week ... BUT, you can never go back to Norco.I agreed. Soon one class turned into three to four classes a week. After I gained experience and confidence, I started my own real estate school in October 2003. The rest is history. We're now in our 15th year in business.   Serendipity and Success   If I hadn't gone into that real estate office and sat in that seat and seen that sandwich sign, perhaps ADHI Schools wouldn't exist now.  The real estate school sign was situated right behind my desk at the real estate office I chose to join. If I had chosen to work anywhere else, I might not have had that opportunity to initially teach - and our real estate school might not exit.Though it all happened through a series of accidental events, the result feels meant to be. I have worked with the same group of people for years, and they feel like family. We have a bunch of instructors, assistants and managers who all work together to make our school the powerhouse it is today.My real estate teacher was my mentor. I learned so much from watching how he taught real estate classes. He had lots of experience teaching classes to big-name brokerages since the '70s and '80s. I carry a lot of what I learned from him still today, because before you can branch out, you need to first imitate people who are successful in what you want to do.   So that's the story. Now I also have a brokerage, real estate school and marketing company. I stay busy, and I like it that way!   Make Your Own Story   Feeling fired up? Ready to start your own success story? Find out more about our real estate courses by calling the office at 888-768-5285. We would be happy to help get you enrolled in California Real Estate License courses!
Getting started in the real estate business

3 Reasons People Fail at Real Estate

Real estate agent handing over key

Over the past 15+ years, I have taught literally thousands of people real estate at ADHI Schools. This has amounted to over 11,000 hours of real estate classes in a classroom setting. In short, I’ve

Over the past 15+ years, I have taught literally thousands of people real estate at ADHI Schools. This has amounted to over 11,000 hours of real estate classes in a classroom setting. In short, I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen people join the business during deep recessions and also in the best of markets. I’ve witnessed many people start out in different circumstances and have noticed three common reasons may fail to launch their careers once they leave our classes. This is true whether students take real estate classes in Los Angeles or otherwise. Understanding these pitfalls can help you avoid them and ultimately succeed. My deepest wish is for you to be successful in your endeavors, and a large part of success is avoiding common mistakes. I recently recorded a YouTube video onthree reasons I think some people fail in the real estate business if they’re not careful: 1. They Fail to Treat It Like a Business When people get into our industry, they often don’t manage their time well. The flexible hours that real estate provides can shock a former 9-to-5 salary worker in terms of the level of freedom they suddenly have in their schedule. The change in routine feels nice. It’s tempting to get lazy. Instead of jolting awake to the alarm clock at 5:30 am, they realize they can sleep in if they want to. This also means they can stay out a little later. This often starts a cycle of time mismanagement. They’ll start to go to bed a little later and then sleep in. When they had a 9-to-5, they would hit the gym at 6 am, be out by 7 am and be in the office by 8:30. But in real estate, agents can wake up when they want because they don’t need to be in the office at any set time. Their new flex hours, which could potentially be an asset, are now a stumbling block. On the other hand, those who treat real estate like a real job maintain structure. They show up at their office in the morning and are ready to work. They don’t leave whenever they feel like it or treat it like a part-time gig. If you want full-time success, you need to be prospecting like a full-time job. You also need to constantly improve on your know-how and build upon your expertise. Think about this analogy: You have a restaurant that opens at 11. Do you show up right at 11? No! You arrive a couple of hours early to do kitchen prep so when the doors open at 11, you offer great food and service to your customers. The same goes for real estate. You need to apply the same discipline to your time as you did when external forces were dictating when you showed up and worked. 2. They Fail to Remember It’s a Sales Job Your real estate job comprises two basic components: lead cultivation and closing. A lot of people float along hoping to stumble into deals handed to them by friends and family. Sure, you can probably survive the first six to ten months with deals from friends and family, but what happens when you sell the houses of everyone you know? What if you don’t have a big sphere of influence? Are you actively prospecting? Do you use social media to reach out to new prospects? Are you actively promoting yourself online and with everyone you meet? This is a sales job! A lot of people aren’t naturally comfortable with the idea of being a salesperson. As a salesperson, you need tenacity and passion. Reaching out to new prospects and leads may initially feel uncomfortable but eventually you’ll get more comfortable with selling. You need to constantly be looking for new leads even when you are busy, so that you never have a time when you’re not. 3. They Run Out of Money When you start the business, you’ll need to pass your real estate exam and pay license fees and association of Realtor dues. These can all add up quickly, especially if you’re using your own money to market and promote your listings. Because escrows are often lengthly, it’s important to understand that it takes time to close on properties. During this time you’re not getting paid, so the first six to ten months can be rocky financially. I see some people return to the 9-to-5 job because they run out of money — however, this whole situation can be avoided with some preparation. Before you start making enough to go full time, it will take time to build up a pipeline in the first year. Have some savings set aside or a spouse to support you until you make enough to sustain yourself again. Overall, a financial safety net increases your chance of success during an agent’s first year. Learn What It Takes to Succeed Are you interested in learning more about the exciting real estate business? Do you want to take real estate classes online or do you want to attend real estate school in Orange County? Take our classes to get a leg up in the California real estate market.
Practical advice for real estate agents

How to break into the luxury real estate market

Million dollar home in newport beach

It's nice to get a piece of a pie, whatever the size. But let's be honest: Would you prefer 3 percent of a $300,000 listing or of an $18 million mansion? The luxury real estate market is where you can

It's nice to get a piece of a pie, whatever the size. But let's be honest: Would you prefer 3 percent of a $300,000 listing or of an $18 million mansion? The luxury real estate market is where you can earn the big bucks — but breaking into it isn't easy. Fortunately, one of my former students Jason Peteler recently sat down with me and discussed how he got into this lucrative market. Newer real estate agents can successfully transition into the luxury business by embracing these four points: Be good at marketing. Be good with people. Know your area. Don't start out alone! 1. Master the Art of Marketing: Your image is everything in the high-end market. That's why marketing is the key to putting your best foot forward and spreading awareness about your brand. You need to be where your potential clients are looking. The current trends are overwhelmingly in mobile and social media. If you're not on Facebook and Instagram yet, you need to create accounts today. If your website isn't mobile optimized, get some help to update it ASAP. Every time you post, you should present yourself in a way your clients want to see you. Do you want to look negative and unmotivated? Of course not! Instead, post about your current successes and create the image of a confident and competent professional. Get creative and post infographics, pictures and videos. You can even go "live" for a behind-the-scenes tour of a new listing! 2. Remember It's All About People! Peteler briefly touched on being a "therapist" in his interview, and he's spot on. Imagine the stress buyers experience when buying or selling average-priced homes. Now multiply the commitment and risk by 10, and you have a client who's parting with or purchasing a high-end property. Great real estate agents can help their clients cope with the stress and pressure involved with one of the biggest financial moves of their life. This interpersonal skill can make or break a transaction, because maintaining a good agent-client relationship keeps the ball rolling. 3. Know Your Area!< Who wants to work with an agent who doesn't know anything about the local area? When high-end clients approach an agent, they're looking for expertise. When you know the area well, you can sell the listing well. Acquaint yourself with the area by spending time there: Eat at the local restaurants, talk to residents, walk around and soak in the sights and mood of the district. The more you know about the area, the more your clients will trust you. 4. Don't Start Out Alone! Real estate agents who have successfully broken into the luxury market virtually agree on one point: Don't try to do it alone. You'll need to learn the ropes from agents who have real experience in the high-end market. This can mean co-listing with another agent, being part of a team or even becoming someone's "apprentice." In fact, Peteler says that you should first follow a template: Copy what you see has worked for someone, and later you can expand upon it and innovate. 5. Get in Touch! Another indispensable quality a luxury real estate agent needs is a solid education. To find out more about our real estate courses, contact me today.  You can call the office at 888-768-5285 and we would be happy to help get you enrolled in California real estate license courses!
Real estate market analysis

End-of-Year Foreclosures Continue to Fall

Foreclosure for sale sign in front of house

Recent foreclosure data published by CoreLogic details a lengthy trend of declining completed foreclosures and mortgages at risk for foreclosure. Take a closer look at a few key figures that show some

Recent foreclosure data published by CoreLogic details a lengthy trend of declining completed foreclosures and mortgages at risk for foreclosure. Take a closer look at a few key figures that show some good news about 2016’s housing market. Nationwide there were just 30,000 completed foreclosures in October 2016—that’s down from 40,000 in October 2015 and 3.6% fewer than September 2016 (a significant decline). The number of mortgages in serious delinquency, and thus at greatest risk for future foreclosure, fell below 1,000,000 to 997,000. What does that do to the overall foreclosure picture? Well, as of October only 0.8% of homes nationwide were in foreclosure—and that number is falling. November showed even more progress in this area. The number of completed foreclosures fell further to 26,000, down 30.0% from November of 2015. This is a 14.1% drop from October. Better yet, this means that the number of completed foreclosures year-over-year (2015 to 2016) is down 25.9% with 61 consecutive months of year-over-year (e.g. November 2015 vs November 2016) declines in foreclosure inventory. CoreLogic also published a promising figure on housing prices—year-over-year housing prices are up 7.1% through November, with projections of 4.7% increases by November 2017. December finished out the year in similar fashion. There were just 21,000 completed foreclosures in December 2016, 29.5% fewer than December of 2015. This leaves just 0.8% of all homes with a mortgage in the foreclosure inventory, the same percentage as October. These numbers are clearly great for homeowners right now and are encouraging to many in the industry. A healthy housing market is great for the economy and the consumer, promoting further engagement with the housing market. This is part of the reason that real estate professionals are encouraging people to buy and sell—they are witnessing a strong housing market. There are those that point out that the national foreclosure rate was very low before the housing crisis that kicked off the Great Recession. We would be remiss to ignore this data. The housing market is one of the most important markets in the U.S. economy, but the economy itself is of course complicated and never invulnerable to decline. Housing affordability and rent affordability issues are legitimate and contribute to analysts’ long-term worries for the housing market. Adhi always recommends that our readers obtain as much information about the housing market as possible in order to assess different housing markets. The market conditions in Los Angeles may vary from the market conditions in New York City. These foreclosure and price numbers are, for now, a sign of a healthy market with improving conditions for a great many Americans. What does this mean for your market? Have you seen these stats reflected in your market? Are foreclosures down, or are they up or stable? Any signs of upcoming changes? Let us know, we would love to hear more about your market conditions!  
Real estate market analysis
Real estate licensing stuff

Crucial Legal Updates for California Real Estate Professionals

Real estate agent showing potential property to young couple

Find here a summary of important legislative updates affecting California real estate professionals. Assembly Bill 1650—Disclosure Requirements on Solicitations New legislation has been signed

Find here a summary of important legislative updates affecting California real estate professionals. Assembly Bill 1650—Disclosure Requirements on Solicitations New legislation has been signed into law by the governor that affects disclosure requirements on real estate solicitation materials. A.B. 1650 is concerned with real estate licensees disclosing when they are performing a task that requires a license if it is intended as a first point of contact with a consumer. Thus any publishing or distributing of materials that advertise a product or service that requires a license must state that a license is required for that activity. For example, if a REALTOR® wants to advertise his or her listing services, their distributed material must make it clear that listing a property requires a real estate license. All of these “first point of contact” materials are also required to include the licensees license identification number and apply to mortgage loan originators as well, not just real estate salespersons or brokers. The new law provides examples of materials that will require this disclosure. It specifically states that covered materials “includes business cards, stationery, advertising flyers, and other materials designed to solicit the creation of a professional relationship between the licensee and a consumer”. Note that this is not an all-inclusive list and any other material intended as a first point of contact with consumers would be subject to the same requirements. The real estate commissioner has the power to define the list further. This law’s reach does not extend, however, to “an advertisement in print or electronic media” or to for sale signs. SB 710 Clarifies Team Name Laws Current California law requires the listing of the company name and responsible broker’s license number on all team advertising materials, which was not the intent of legislators when they originally wrote the law. Enter Senate Bill 710, which, effective immediately, changes the requirement from both the “name under which the responsible broker is currently licensed by the bureau and conducts business in general or is a substantial division of the real estate firm” and the associated license identification number, to that name or that name and the license identification number. Those wishing to refrain from listing the broker’s identification number on advertising materials may now do so. Again, this law is effective immediately. For any further information, the text of the legislation can be found here AB 2330 Updates Broker Associates Searchable Information and Broker Notification Requirements The California legislature has unanimously passed and Gov. Brown has signed into law AB 2330 and goes into effect January 1st, 2018. This new law requires brokers to “immediately notify the Commissioner in writing” when a new real estate salesperson hangs their license under the broker or is terminated by the broker. “Willful or knowing” violation of this provision is punishable as a misdemeanor. Brokers must also report to CalBRE if a licensee is an “associate licensee” and if so, which broker the licensee is contractually associated with. CalBRE will be required to publish this information as well. AB 197, SB 32: Greenhouse Gas Legislation A seemingly unusual law for inclusion in a real estate-centered legislative update, but this law actually has the potential to be quite important. This law requires the State Air Resources Board to “approve a statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit equivalent to the statewide greenhouse gas emissions level in 1990” to be achieved by 2020. By 2030 greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced to 40% below 1990 levels. The board is also required to “protect the state’s most impacted and disadvantaged communities” while creating these regulations. This means that more steps will be taken to lower emissions—steps that have not yet been decided. The economic impacts are not yet known. Housing is clearly an issue that disadvantaged communities are concerned with, perhaps lending strength to the argument that policies that would directly affect the housing market will not be included. Yet, there is not yet any such guarantee. Real estate professionals should watch this law and its impacts as they assess their markets. Adhi encourages our students and readers to pay attention to politics and the state of the economy as our industry is dependent upon consumer confidence and a healthy economy. AB 73: Clarifications Upon Disclosures of Death, HIV This law, which took effect on September 25th, 2016, updates the wording of the law to clarify required disclosures. One such clarification is the confirmation that owners and agents are not required to disclose an occupant’s death or cause of death on the property if it occurred more than three years prior “to the date the transferee offers to purchase, lease, or rent the property”. Previously the law only stated that failure to disclose under these circumstances provided no cause of action. This law also clarifies the disclosures surrounding HIV/AIDS. Owners and agents are not required to disclose that “an occupant of the property was living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or died from AIDS-related complications” at any point. It is of crucial importance that California real estate professionals fully understand these disclosure requirements in order to fulfill their duties to their client and not violate the law. AB 2406, AB 2299, and SB 1069: “Accessory Dwelling Units” These laws change some requirements for the zoning and creation of “Accessory Dwelling Units” (ABUs), formerly referred to as “Second Units”. AB 2406 permits a “local [housing] agency” to “provide by ordinance” for the creation of ABUs in single-family or multifamily residential areas. This includes “Junior” ABUs within a single-family home. Any proposed ordinance to permit these ABUs must include “among other things”, building standards for the creation of said ABUs, “required deed restrictions, and occupancy requirements”. Additional parking requirements for the unit are prohibited by this law. AB 2299 and SB 1069 work together to change the term “Second Unit” to “Accessory Dwelling Unit” as well as establish guidelines for ADU permit review processes and restrictions with the declared hope of increasing housing supply in the state. Cities and counties are permitted to identify and/or evaluate potential sites for the creation of ABUs. Cities and counties will be able to substitute ABUs for up to 25% of “the community’s obligation to identify sites for any income category” (meaning that communities that invest in housing may include ABUs as part of said investment, with further requirements.) The laws also mandate that local agencies approve or disapprove applications “ministerially without discretionary review” unless they have adopted their own ordinance in accordance with this law—incentivizing local agency cooperation. Local agencies can adopt certain restrictions to accommodate other zoning laws. For specific requirements and details of these laws, visit them here: AB 2406,  AB 2299, SB 1069 We welcome feedback and commentary from our readers on these important new laws. Do you foresee important market impacts? Will any of these laws affect your business in any way? Let us know in the comments. And as always, for any questions or clarifications feel free to reach out to cody@adhischools.com
Uncategorized

Gragg v. United States: IRS Tax Deductions Clarified

Calculating tax deducations for real estate professional

Many real estate professionals use their knowledge and expertise to invest in real estate. They know a good deal when they see it, know the laws they need to navigate, and likely have contacts in property

Many real estate professionals use their knowledge and expertise to invest in real estate. They know a good deal when they see it, know the laws they need to navigate, and likely have contacts in property management or are confident in their ability to manage a rental property. Rental losses are also potentially deductible, insulating investors from some risk. But how does this deduction work? In Gragg v. United States of America; Internal Revenue Service a real estate professional was found to not be eligible for a tax deduction that they felt they were entitled to, shedding light on the details of the law—real estate agents who invest in rental properties should not necessarily expect these tax deductions unless they can prove that their investment involves material participation. Gragg v. United States has provided us with a clarification on the Internal Revenue Code’s definition of material participation in rental activities. If a real estate professional materially participates in their rental activities, losses may be deducted. Passive activity in a rental investment, on the other hand, is not grounds for a tax deduction. The court case cites Section 469 of the Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.), which defines material participation as activity in which the “taxpayer is involved in the operations of the activity on a basis which is—(a) regular, (b) continuous, and (c) substantial.” Rental activity is typically classified as “per se passive” and not eligible for any deductions under the material participation rule. Yet Section 469 (c)(7) of the I.R.C. has established that for “taxpayers who qualify as real estate professionals, the per se rental bar” does not apply, meaning real estate professionals have a greater ability to deduct losses on rental investments because real estate is their profession. So how do these two sections of code work together? Since Gragg is a real estate professional, she should have been able to claim a deduction, right? Yet the court sided with the IRS and found Gragg ineligible for the deduction. How does this work? The explanation lies in the interaction of the two sections of code. The court states that the effect of the real estate professional exception to the law is to remove the automatic classification of rental activity as passive—it does nothing to the general rule that material participation is necessary for exemption. Thus without proof of material participation, a real estate professional invested in a rental property cannot deduct losses. Essentially there is a two step process to earn a tax deduction. First, one must be a real estate professional. Step two is to demonstrate material participation, something Gragg was incapable of proving. Two pages of undated notes were offered, but as those notes had not been present for previous court proceedings the court in this case declined to address them as a new argument. The lesson for the real estate professional with rental investment properties—document your material participation. Prove activity in property management. Without this proof your deductions will be rejected by the IRS and you will find yourself paying more in taxes than you would have needed to if you had documented your material participation properly.
Uncategorized

Legislative Update: SB 710 Clarifies Team Name Laws

Licence

Current California law requires the listing of the company name AND responsible broker’s license number on all team advertising materials, which was not the intent of legislators when they originally

Current California law requires the listing of the company name AND responsible broker’s license number on all team advertising materials, which was not the intent of legislators when they originally wrote the law.  If you are thinking about taking real estate classes in Los Angeles and joining a real estate team continue reading.   Enter Senate Bill 710, which changes the requirement from both the “name under which the responsible broker is currently licensed by the bureau” AND the associated license identification number, to the name of the broker OR that name and the license identification number.   Those wishing to refrain from listing the broker’s identification number on advertising materials may now do so but must still include the name of the broker at a minimum.   Again, this law is effective immediately.   Even still, it is important that real estate professionals follow the law and make all necessary disclosures. For any further information, the text of the legislation can be found here, or contact the author of this piece at cody@adhischools.com for any questions or clarifications.
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Single Women—The Substantial (and Overlooked) Home-buying Demographic

Group of single women drinking wine at a restaurant

Your intuition can probably tell you that married couples are the largest home-buying demographic. It makes sense: between family and financial goals and the purchasing power of two people, married couples

Your intuition can probably tell you that married couples are the largest home-buying demographic. It makes sense: between family and financial goals and the purchasing power of two people, married couples have both the incentive and the means to purchase real estate. But married couples aren’t the only buyers. Single women make up the second largest buying demographic, ahead of single men and unmarried couples. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2016 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, 15% of recent buyers were single women. This number may not appear to be that large to some readers, but considering 67% of buyers were married couples and the next largest buyer demographic—single males—only accounted for 9% of buyers, it is quite evident that single women make up a huge part of the home buying population. The highest percentage of single female buyers falls in the 51-60 year-old age range, where they actually make up 20% of buyers. 19% of buyers aged 61 to 69 are single females. Thus this single female buyer demographic is on average a bit older than the typical buyer. This is not to suggest, however, that younger single women are not also buying homes—they make up 13% of buyers in both the under-35 and 36-50 age groups. There are a few other statistics to keep in mind to contextualize what we know now: First time home buyers made up 32% of buyers The typical buyer was 44 years old—younger than the average single female buyer 77% of sellers were married couples—singles and unmarried couples thus account for the other 23% of sellers So what’s the takeaway for real estate professionals? How does this impact your business? We  encourage you to keep an open mind as you take our real estate classes and forget any preconceived notions about who the average buyer is. Married couples might make up the majority of buyers, but there are other demographics—most notably single women—that are also active. Think about ways to expand your network to better utilize this knowledge. You know your niche, ask yourself how to better utilize it. Share this information and find those people willing to dive into real estate.
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Playboy Mansion Sold for $100 Million—But Hef to Stick Around

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For those of you taking our Los Angeles real estate school, you might already know that the iconic Playboy Mansion has recently been sold for a staggering $100 million, half the original asking price,

For those of you taking our Los Angeles real estate school, you might already know that the iconic Playboy Mansion has recently been sold for a staggering $100 million, half the original asking price, to Daren Metropoulos—son of billionaire investor C. Dean Metropoulos. But Hugh Hefner won’t leave just yet—the 90-year-old will pay $1 million per year to continue residing at the estate and has the right to do so until he passes away. We’ve all seen photos and heard stories of the property, but what else should we know? The iconic Gothic Tudor was built in 1927, considered one of the greatest works of famed architect Arthur R. Kelly. The house is approximately 20,000 square feet with twelve bedrooms (including the two-floor master suite), chef’s and catering kitchens, and a screening room with a built-in pipe organ. The grounds also house a gym, a tennis court, an orchard, a four-bedroom guest house, and the famous—or infamous—pool and grotto. All together the estate is five acres of prime west Los Angeles real estate. So what are Metropoulos’ plans for the property? Well, he already lives next door and his long term plans are to merge the two estates into one larger property. He views it as his “private residence for years to come”. Metropoulos has described the Playboy Mansion as a “one-of-a-kind piece of history and art” that he intends to renovate and restore. The deal itself? Mauricio Umansky of The Agency, many of our students work there already - with Gary Gold and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland were the agents to hold the listing. Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage represented Metropoulos. Is this type of success enough motivation to work harder as a real estate agent and get your real estate license in California? We think so! =)
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RED ALERT - Assembly Bill 1381

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Earlier this morning the California Association of Realtors sent out a “red alert” regarding Assembly Bill 1381. The frenzy was caused by a last minute change that would exempt some outdoor advertising

Earlier this morning the California Association of Realtors sent out a “red alert” regarding Assembly Bill 1381. The frenzy was caused by a last minute change that would exempt some outdoor advertising companies from needing a real estate license. This could harm many Realtor’s businesses as this is an area of specialization for some. If this bill were to pass, two problems are created: First, while real estate licensees have a fiduciary duty toward their client, it isn’t immediately clear whether or not these outdoor advertising companies would have the same duty to the landowner or advertiser. Another potential pitfall is this bill could have the effect of reducing a revenue stream for Realtors by allowing those negotiating outdoor advertising space to act in that capacity without a license. The California Association of Realtors and ADHI Schools, LLC are opposed to this or any legislation that would allow companies or individuals to act in a real estate license capacity without a license.
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Formerly Homeless Student and Veteran Housing Legislation

Homeless veteran sleeping outside next to a tree on the street

Homelessness is a serious problem. Despite efforts to curb it—from government housing programs to charitable organizations and shelters—it persists. A recent federal House bill (with bipartisan cosponsorship)

Homelessness is a serious problem. Despite efforts to curb it—from government housing programs to charitable organizations and shelters—it persists. A recent federal House bill (with bipartisan cosponsorship) has been written that aims to help homeless and formerly homeless students and student veterans attain housing. H.R. 5290 would amend the Internal Revenue Code to “qualify low-income building units that provide housing for homeless students and veterans who are full-time students for the low-income housing tax credit.” The full-time student must have been a homeless child or youth during any portion of the seven years prior to occupation of the housing unit in order to be eligible. Veterans are eligible if they have been homeless at any point in the previous five years and are full-time students.  So what is the low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and how would this bill impact affordable housing? The LIHTC frees up funding for the development costs of low-income housing. Investors receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit that directly lowers owed income tax. These investors propose a project to the state housing finance agency. A certain percentage of units in the development are committed to being both rent restricted and occupied by individuals under a certain income threshold compared to the median gross income in the area. This commitment includes a number of years (typically 30) that the rent restrictions and availability will exist, meaning that landlords cannot take advantage of a tax credit, then remove rent restrictions. The specific scenarios are outlined here. These projects can be new construction or acquisition and/or rehabilitation of existing housing developments. Once the state housing finance agency approves the project, the credits are claimed over a ten year period. To summarize: a landlord-investor set aside a certain number of units that have lowered rent to be made available to renters with low income. H.R. 5290 would automatically qualify students that were homeless children or youths within the last seven years and veterans that have been homeless within the last five years as eligible tenants for the rent-restricted units. If H.R. 5290 is passed and signed into law there would be more incentive for landlords and developers to subsidize housing for formerly homeless veterans and youths while they are in college. This makes it easier for those who have escaped homelessness to stay out—a very real problem, especially in more expensive areas of the country. It is difficult to succeed in higher education while earning enough money to support oneself. It also provides a pathway out for those currently homeless. If they can become a full-time student, they can gain access to cheaper housing. Will it pass? No way to tell yet, but bipartisan cosponsorship is always a good sign. In an increasingly divided legislature and an election year, cooperation is not something we hear about too often. Because this bill has Democratic and Republican support it may have a better chance of being passed. But the Senate is not currently in session, so any movement by the House will not be matched in the Senate until at least September. We will be certain to keep our readers updated as this legislation progresses or falters. For questions about the legislation, programs described, or other real estate topics feel free to reach out to the author at cody@adhischools.com. If you feel strongly one way or another about this proposed legislation, we encourage you to contact your elected representatives. Anyone looking to obtain their real estate license needs to keep an eye on these important legislative updates.
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Are You Being Watched?

Surveillance cameras on building wall pointed at wo people

Sellers marketing their homes are often concerned about what goes on inside their house when they’re not there. This has led to the installation of surveillance equipment in many homes for sale. Maybe

Sellers marketing their homes are often concerned about what goes on inside their house when they’re not there. This has led to the installation of surveillance equipment in many homes for sale. Maybe the seller has a security concern: who is coming into my home and what are they doing? Are they stealing? Or maybe their interests are purely professional. What are potential buyers saying about my new floors? Is my agent working hard for me? Regardless of the motive, this is something real estate professionals must be aware of, particularly when the seller is not present. These days it’s easy for a homeowner to keep their home under surveillance and find out what’s happening in their absence.  From openly visible security cameras to so-called “nanny cams” (hidden cameras designed to innocuously keep an eye on caretakers that are often adopted for other purposes), there are lots of ways to keep watch. You may be asking, is this legal? The answer is yes, for video recording - more on audio in a moment.  Unless a person being recorded is somewhere they can reasonably expect privacy (e.g. a bathroom, changing room, etc.), video surveillance is legal. Considering a real estate agent is inside of someone else’s home, it is unlikely that court proceedings would determine that they could have reasonably expected privacy in the event they are recorded. If you are listing agent and see cameras, you need to get on the same page as the seller if at all possible. Ask if the cameras are on when you are showing the home and what the purpose is. You will probably be asked about the cameras by potential buyers and agents and you should be prepared for that question. It’s also possible that you may not know about the presence of cameras in your listings, particularly if they are hidden. If you feel comfortable asking the question, you could simply ask your seller if any recording equipment is in the property.  These days, it’s probably safest to assume that cameras exist inside the home.  While this should not affect what you do on the property (as you should already have been following all legal and ethical requirements that coincide with holding a real estate license), a mindful outlook on the situation may prevent professional issues with your clients. Audio recordings are another legal issue. Depending on the state it is illegal to record a conversation without the consent of all recorded parties. In California, the legal standard is that “confidential communication” cannot be recorded without two-party consent. “Confidential communication” is defined as any communication in circumstances as may “reasonably indicate that any party to the communication desires it to be confined to the parties thereto”, as long as the communication is not made in a “public gathering”, “in any legislative, judicial, executive or administrative proceeding open to the public”, or “in any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded”. This leaves a significant loophole. How do you define a reasonable expectation to be overheard? According to the law offices of Stimmel, Stimmel, & Smith, answering this question will be left to the proceedings of each trial (and thus either the jury or judges). It is quite possible that a recording in someone’s home would not be considered a violation of privacy because the recorded persons are on someone else’s property, but there is not a guarantee. Real estate agents are invited into a home for business purposes and conversations are part of that standard business practice. It is entirely possible that a judge and jury would rule that privacy should not be expected. Does all of this sound paranoid? Consider a few cases where that surveillance revealed some unpleasant facts.  In 2013 an agent was caught stealing underwear from his female client. In 2014 two real estate agents were caught having sex on secret cameras in the home one of them was listing. And just last year a real estate agent was caught stealing prescription pain medication from a house she was showing. Obviously these happenings are rare, but it does prove that some homeowners had good reason to be suspicious. So for our students preparing for the California real estate exam, know that obtaining a license is not an endorsement of character. Some sellers will be skeptical or nervous about the prospect of letting strangers into their home and real estate professionals should be prepared for how those clients try to protect themselves. Do you have any experiences with recording equipment in a listed property? Comment below! As always, feel free to reach out to the writer, cody@adhischools.com , if you have any questions.  
Practical advice for real estate agents

Landscaping to Your Environment

Batch of succulent plants in front yard of home

With much of the Western United States experiencing extended droughts, some homeowners are turning to alternative landscaping methods to save resources. Recently REALTOR® Magazine1 (pg 34-35) wrote

With much of the Western United States experiencing extended droughts, some homeowners are turning to alternative landscaping methods to save resources. Recently REALTOR® Magazine1 (pg 34-35) wrote about owners who are “rethinking the traditional American landscape” by moving toward yards that require less water and maintenance. The “desert landscaping” method, popular in much of the Southwest, is probably what comes to mind when picturing drought-resistant landscaping, but depending upon your locale there are other options to save water without compromising the aesthetics of a property. Besides aesthetics, cost can be a deterrent when re-landscaping. It takes money to tear out a lawn, buy new plants, or truck in gravel. While these upfront costs are cause for legitimate concern, a move towards drought-resistant landscaping has the potential to save a homeowner money over time. The overall savings will depend on water prices in a given area, but expert estimates claim up to 75% less water is needed and maintenance bills could be lowered by 50% in Southern California when desert landscaping is implemented. It would be wise to investigate rebate opportunities from your city or county water authority in your area to help offset the upfront cost. There are opportunities throughout the western United States for rebates for everything from removing grass lawns and installing more efficient watering and irrigation systems to more general rebates for conversion to a drought-tolerant landscape. With hundreds of dollars in rebates oftentimes available, the investment can be manageable. Houses with great curb appeal are easier to sell and it is never too soon to plan ahead. While the traditional, perfectly green yard will likely never go out of style, trends in design can impact prices. Landscape economist John Harris states that good landscaping can add up to 28% to home value. A Clemson University study says that taking landscaping from good to excellent “in terms of design, condition, and placement” can add 6-7% to a home’s value. These statistics show that execution and design are important. If you choose to move away from a more traditional landscape design, but do it poorly, you may miss out on the opportunity for increased value or worse – even see your property value lowered. Choose the right layout, plants, and accessories, from gravel to a suitable gate to the backyard or courtyard. Seek professional landscaping help or gather the opinions of those you trust about what works. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also publishes information on “hardiness zones” that help people understand which plants can survive in which conditions. Remember, if your landscaping is already good, making it “excellent” could add 6-7% in value. Some owners resist the thought of a drought resistant yard because they fear that their children won’t be able to play as much. One option is to maintain a lawn in the backyard for room to play, while the landscaping for the rest of the property reflects alternative design. Some choose to pursue this goal with artificial turf in the place of a genuine grass. The distance to a good, safe park can also be a factor here. A nearby park can reduce the amount of green space you personally need and many newer developments are built with parks in the neighborhood. So if you’re a homeowner, consider a more efficient yard. It might just improve your curb appeal and the value of your home while saving you money on water and maintenance. Whether you’re taking real estate classes in Los Angeles or preparing for the real estate exam in California, make sure you know how to talk to your clients about landscaping. It may not be your job to convince them that alternative landscaping design is right for them, but it is your job to make sure they understand the reasons behind these designs and the community resources that may make up for lost green space.
Real estate market analysis

Update: H.R. 3700/ S. 3083 Signed into Law

Signature on new legislature

As we predicted on July 20th, H.R. 3700/ S. 3083, the bipartisan housing legislation that passed through Congress without receiving a single “no” vote, was signed into law by President Obama on Friday,

As we predicted on July 20th, H.R. 3700/ S. 3083, the bipartisan housing legislation that passed through Congress without receiving a single “no” vote, was signed into law by President Obama on Friday, July 29th. The new law will reform HUD’s Section 8 housing voucher program (and any other family rental assistance programs) by requiring public housing agencies (PHAs) to develop new systems to properly review the incomes of families receiving assistance, to cease assisting families with assets exceeding $100,000, and a cap on project-based vouchers (those vouchers tied to the unit, not the tenant). The FHA mortgage insurance eligibility requirements have also been changed. The FHA has now been instructed to make recertification of eligible condominiums less burdensome and to lower the required percentage of units occupied by owners in a development from 50% to 35% in order to qualify. Loan approval authority for the USDA Rural Housing Service’s single family housing guaranteed loan program will now be made available to preferred lenders, streamlining this program. As noted earlier, we predicted that this legislation would pass due to its broad bipartisan support and common sense reforms to important government policies and programs. We supported the legislation, as did the National Association of REALTORS®, California Association of REALTORS®, California Association of Mortgage Professionals, and other professional organizations. The reforms to FHA condominium approval processes are particularly promising and have the opportunity to open up more affordable housing opportunities for Americans while incentivizing the development of more housing, something we desperately need. The full text (with summary) of the law can be found here. Or view our previous article summarizing some of the key impacts. For any questions or comments, reply below or reach out to the writer at cody@adhischools.com
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U.S. Homeownership Rate Falls to Lowest in Over 50 Years

Multi line graph showing a trending decline

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, owner-occupied households fell to 62.9% of total households in the second quarter of 2016, the lowest rate of homeownership in the U.S. since 1965. This statistic raises

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, owner-occupied households fell to 62.9% of total households in the second quarter of 2016, the lowest rate of homeownership in the U.S. since 1965. This statistic raises concerns about the future of home ownership and housing affordability in the United States. Before potential causes of this decline are assessed, the numbers must be put in historical context. Census Bureau statistics show that after a low point in 1965, the homeownership rate climbed (fairly consistently, but with many small dips) to a peak from 1979 through 1981, fluctuating between 65.5 and 65.8%. A dip followed and the 1980s and first quarter of the 1990s consistently had lower homeownership rates than the 1970s. A brief climb occurred before a dip to 63.8% homeownership in the first two quarters of 1994 (a very low point over the last 50 years). Yet from that low point there was a near continuous climb to the peak: 2004, when Q2 and Q4 hit 69.2% owner-occupied households. The next few years displayed rates near the peak, before the drop in 2007. Since 2007 there has been near continuous decline, with only a handful of tiny upward movements as the last nine years mirrored the upward climb of the 90s and 2000s. The under-35 years old and 35-44 years old demographics are the two that are below the national homeownership rate, pulling the rate down. As of the second quarter of 2016, only 34.1% of under 35 households are owner-occupied, the lowest that number has been since 1994 (the most recent historically bad year). Only 58.3% of 35-44 households are owner-occupied. 45-54 years old is at 69.1%, 55-64 years old is at 74.7%, and 65+ is at 77.9%, proving that older, more established adults are much more likely to own their housing. The high cost of housing has led to more renting. When a Housing Affordability Index is examined the home ownership rate makes a little bit more sense. According to the California Association of REALTORS®, through the first quarter of 2016 only 60% of U.S. households can afford to purchase the median priced home in the state, a number that shows that our owner-occupied rate could feasibly be even lower. Some states, like California, have significantly lower ratings (in California only 34% of households could afford a single family home and only 41% could afford a condo or townhouse). Meanwhile, the rental market is very strong. Renter-occupied housing units jumped 967,000 units from same period last year. The Wall Street Journal states that “moving into a rental unit has been entirely responsible for rising household formation since the recession began”. While home ownership is down, renting is up and is the sector where more new households are represented. Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, agrees with this assertion and adds that the decline in home ownership is more likely “due to a large increase in the number of renter households than any real decline in the number of homeowner households”. That means that in this last quarter we didn't see a drop in the gross number of owner-occupied housing units, we saw an increase in rental housing. That is a very significant fact that should calm those that fear this is currently a crisis. Housing affordability is a very real concern and there are arguments to be made that these issues will permanently suppress the percentage of those owning homes. Bottom line: the number of new households that are renting is outpacing the number of new households that are buying—decreasing homeownership rates. Why is housing so unaffordable? The answer is complicated, but it boils down to supply and demand. Demand is high for the available supply, which is great for property values and long-term investment in property. But it has consequences with affordability and when people cannot afford to make a downpayment and buy a property, they rent or find another arrangement (living at home with parents, for example.) As the rental market becomes more competitive, prices increase (a logical end of supply and demand). This incentivizes homeownership, in theory alleviating some of the pressure and providing equilibrium in the market. But if rental prices are high enough that saving for a downpayment becomes difficult, renters find themselves stuck renting. This is not just a hypothetical either—a quick glance at a list of homeownership rates by country shows that many well-developed nations have similar or worse rates—Switzerland, Germany, Austria, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan all had lower homeownership rates as of 2014. This is a long-term phenomenon that can occur. The supply of new construction is a contributing factor in some places. In California alone 70,000-110,000 more units of housing would have been required per year from 1980 to 2010 to maintain affordability pacing with the rest of the country. Instead, California has some of the most expensive housing in the country and housing affordability index scores to prove it. In March of this year Business Insider published an article highlighting supply issues in the overall U.S. housing market that suggested that the market has “been under built following the crisis and is ill prepared to handle the coming wave of millennial households that will be formed over the next several decades.” The impacts of not building enough housing have the potential to be felt for a long, long time as prices rise. We are seeing impacts now in the homeownership rate. Some things to consider for the future: are we comfortable with permanently lower home ownership rates? what are we going to do about housing supply? what will happen to this rate if we have another recession and see foreclosure rates increase again? Hopefully some pending legislation, like H.R. 3700/ S. 3083 that passed through Congress and will likely be signed into law by President Obama, will help. That bill would ease FHA loan eligibility restrictions and make recertification easier for condominium developments, which could incentivize more homeownership. But the issue of housing supply is much greater than a single piece of legislation and without more construction is unlikely to be eased.
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H.R. 3700/S. 3083 Passes Congress, on to The President

Fha homeownership logo

Legislation with a significant impact on the function of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental assistance and public housing programs, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requirements

Legislation with a significant impact on the function of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental assistance and public housing programs, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requirements for condominium mortgage insurance, and Department of Agriculture (USDA) single family housing guaranteed loan programs passed the Senate on Friday. H.R. 3700 passed through the House of Representatives on February 2nd, so the legislation will be moving to the President’s desk for approval or veto. It passed both houses with broad bipartisan support—it received zero “No” votes. The legislation has been supported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP), and other professional organizations involved with the real estate industry. Below we have highlighted the key impacts this legislation will have if the president signs it into law (the full text and summary of the impacts of the bill can be found here). What Could Change with HUD As may be expected, HUD’s Section 8 housing voucher program (and any other family rental assistance programs) is subject to change. Public housing agencies (PHAs) that administer the program would have new expectations to develop systems to review the incomes of families receiving assistance. This includes annual review or any time income and deductions are expected to increase by 10%. Tenancy must be terminated or the greater of “fair market rent or the amount of the government subsidy for the unit” in the event a tenant’s income is “greater than 120% of the area median income for two consecutive years”. PHAs are also prohibited from renting a dwelling to or assisting a family with “net family assets exceeding $100,000 (adjusted for inflation) or an ownership interest in property that is suitable for occupancy”. The exception is “victims of domestic violence, individuals using housing assistance for homeownership opportunities, or family that is offering a property for sale”. PHAs are also prevented from using more than 20% of their authorized units for project-based vouchers (PBVs; meaning assistance tied to the housing unit not the tenant, like a Section 8 voucher). The exception is an additional 10% for PBVs targeting the homeless, veterans, the elderly, disabled, or for “units in areas where vouchers are difficult to use due to market conditions”. There are many more changes to the technical functioning of these programs that affect the business of some real estate professionals, but for the sake of brevity we will not summarize the rest of these potential modification here. What Could Change with FHA H.R. 3700 would require the FHA to “make recertification substantially less burdensome than original certifications” for condominium mortgage insurance. The FHA would also have to issue guidance “regarding the percentage of units the must be occupied by the owners…in order for a condominium to be eligible for FHA mortgage insurance”. If the FHA does not issue this guidance within 90 days of the bill being signed into law, the default eligibility requirements would be 35% or more of all family units occupied by the owners or sold to owners who intend to see the occupancy requirements, down from 50%. The FHA would be allowed to adjust afterwards to consider “factors relating to the economy” of the area. What Could Change with USDA The Housing Act of 1949 would be amended to permit the USDA to grant preferred lenders its “loan approval authority for the Rural Housing Service’s single family housing guaranteed loan program”. The USDA will be allowed to charge lenders a fee of up to $50 per loan to use the USA’s automated underwriting systems for the program. Industry Opinions The legislation was supported by the National Association of REALTORS®, California Association of REALTORS®, California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP), and more. In an email sent on July14th, CAMP states that the legislation “provides significant benefits to taxpayers, homebuyers and the real estate market” through removing a “burdensome and expensive FHA Condo approval process” and reducing “FHA restrictions on the number of condos available to homebuyers.” They also describe the impact on the Rural Housing Loan Service processing as “permanently streamlining”. Tom Salomone, president of NAR, states that “This legislation will put homeownership in reach for more families” and NAR asserts that condominiums “are among the most affordable homeownership potions for first-time homebuyers, as well as lower income borrowers”. This condominium affordability is important, especially when juxtaposed with the assertion of the California Association of REALTORS® that only “10 percent of condominiums nationwide have made it through the burdensome, time-consuming, and expensive FHA-approval process”. Adhi Schools, LLC Stance We are dedicated to education and policies that lead to a healthy real estate industry and the general well-being of those seeking housing. This bipartisan bill is a rare chance to make the industry more efficient and open up more housing opportunities to more people. The impacts on the FHA condominium approval process are particularly promising. Broader access to these units incentivizes new housing developments that are necessary to combat the increasingly high cost of housing throughout California and the United States.
Real estate licensing stuff

Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate Markets

Foreign currency coins stacked on table in front of market analysis charts

In today’s global economy, real estate is far more than a series of local markets whose prices are determined by local buyers—it is an interconnected, international market where the economic conditions

In today’s global economy, real estate is far more than a series of local markets whose prices are determined by local buyers—it is an interconnected, international market where the economic conditions in one nation can affect real estate values thousands of miles away. Foreign investment in U.S. real estate is now commonplace and has significant impacts on both commercial and residential market conditions. Hearing this, a number of questions come to mind:  Where is the money coming from and how much is there? Why do foreign nationals and companies want to invest in the United States? How does this investment work? What are the impacts on our economy and different real estate markets? What will happen if this investment slows down? How much foreign investment is currently in U.S. real estate? The overall percentage of real estate controlled by foreign buyers depends on whether you are talking about the commercial or residential business. In 2015, foreign buyers accounted for at least 17% of commercial real estate acquisition by dollar amount (NAIOP, Source 1).  The National Association of REALTORS® states that international buyers purchased 4% of existing U.S. homes sold April 2014 through March2015, but those sales added up to 8% of the dollar value (NAR, Source 2).  This indicates that high dollar homes are often scooped up by foreign buyers. Foreign investment in commercial real estate in 2015 totaled $94.3 billion. Foreign investment in residential real estate acquisition in 2015 totaled $104 billion--totalling more than $198 billion in foreign real estate acquisition in the U.S. last year (Asia Society, Source 3). So who is investing all of this money? Until very recently Canada was the number one source of residential real estate investment in the U.S., but last year China spent much more than our neighbor to the north in this sector with $28.6 billion to Canada’s $11.2 billion. India was third in residential real estate investment, with investors pouring $7.9 billion into acquisitions. Commercial real estate acquisitions are still dominated by Canadian investors with $24.6 billion spent last year. Singapore was next with $14.6 billion in acquisitions. China and Norway tied at third with $8.5 billion each spent in commercial real estate acquisitions. There is a common perception that China is dominating investment and buying everything in America, but these figures show that this is not at all the case, especially in the commercial markets. Canada is spending almost three times as much in commercial real estate investment. Singapore outspent China by $6 billion in U.S. commercial real estate acquisitions despite having a GDP 2.7% the size of China’s (World Bank, 4). This is not to suggest that China’s purchasing power should be considered miniscule (realistically China will outdistance Canada, Singapore, and Norway in real estate investment before long); rather, it is important to recognize just how many foreign investors from around the world view the United States as a premier investment destination. There are many reasons people want to invest in U.S. real estate. The most obvious reason for foreign investment in U.S. real estate is financial gain. Real estate investors, wherever they are located, would like to profit and the U.S. has the world’s largest economy with the world’s largest real estate market that is recovering and growing. For example, Norway’s surprisingly enormous amount of money spent on commercial real estate is the action of the state-run Government Pension Fund of Norway--the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. The fund spent $7.6 billion on property globally last year in what it describes as an attempt to attain “the highest possible return with a moderate risk level” as a “long-term investor” (WSJ, 5). The focus isn’t necessarily on profiting in the near-term on the income the property provides. One such purchase was a 45% stake in the 40-story tower at 11 Times Square in Manhattan in February 2015 for $401.9 million. The fund also purchased a 49.9% stake of the Foundry Square II property in San Francisco for $139.7 million (Norges Bank, 6). The United States became the preferred investment destination for these funds because of perceived long-term stability and near-guaranteed long-run appreciation in trophy markets like New York City and San Francisco. The famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York sold for $1.95 billion to a Chinese investment group in 2014. That same group bought Strategic Resorts and Hotels, which has luxury hospitality locations across the U.S. in major markets like Silicon Valley and New York, for $6.5 billion this year (NY Times, 7). For an example closer to home for our Southern California readers, think of the Korean Air Wilshire Grand development. Korean Air and its parent company, Hanjin Group, owned the old Wilshire Grand, tore it down, and is in the midst of building what will soon be the tallest building west of the Mississippi to house a new hotel, retail space, and office space at the cost of more than a billion dollars (Curbed, 8). From coast to coast, America’s big markets are attracting billions in real estate investment. Insecurities and political issues in other markets drive some investors to purchase U.S. real estate as much for stability and security as profit. Many Chinese investors in U.S. real estate were motivated to move money away from a faltering stock market and slowing domestic growth. According to some experts, others around the world want to protect their assets and get their funds out of their own country. Basically, the U.S. real estate market can act a bit like an offshore bank. From an investor’s perspective, sure the U.S. government taxes your money; but, your investment will never be seized by the state and will likely appreciate over time (US News, 9). There are of course more reasons to invest in U.S. real estate. Some families have a child attending school in the United States and want to buy a house here. The U.S. can also act as a tax haven (depending on the nationality of the foreign investor), especially considering taxes will not be paid until the property is sold or earns income. So how does this foreign investment work? Unlike some other countries, the United States has almost no barriers to to foreign ownership of real estate. Investors are generally taxed on their property’s income or sale just like domestic investors (although some treaties with particular nations can ease this burden). However, recent revision of the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) has actually removed some of this tax barrier. FIRPTA guarantees that foreign investors are taxed on their sale of U.S. real estate. The new reforms (which went into effect December 18th, 2015) add more exemptions for foreign pension funds, increases the ownership threshold on the amount of publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT) stock that foreigners can own before being subject to FIRPTA taxation upon sale of said stock from 5% to 10%, and reforms the rules to determine if REIT is domestically controlled. A strong majority of foreign investors interviewed by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate have said that this reform will lead them to invest more heavily in U.S. real estate (Skadden, 10). Aside from taxation, unless the foreign buyer is subject to U.S. sanctions (for reasons such as being a war criminal in another nation; it is incredibly uncommon for the U.S. to place sanctions on an individual), there are no restrictions preventing U.S. citizens and organizations doing business with foreign nationals. As for the actual funding, many international buyers come with cash (including 71% of Chinese buyers 2013-2015). But there are financing options available for these investments. Chinese banks alone have issued $8.5 billion in loans for commercial acquisitions. These same banks make residential loans as well, which are of obvious need for Chinese investors, since they invest more money in residential than commercial real estate acquisitions (Asia Society, 1). However, the Asia Society describes these loans as “limited, but growing”. Those needing lending for residential mortgages are thus more likely to connect with a domestic lending institution for their loan needs. This process is mentioned below. Foreign buyers can also purchase a first property with cash, then take out a home-equity loan to make funds available for other purchases. With funds in U.S. bank accounts investors can begin to obtain credit and establish a credit history that will enable further investment. There are also domestic lenders that have targeted foreign real estate investment. Some of these operate nationwide while others only grant these types of loans for specific states. There is a great deal of variance in products offered as well: minimum and maximum loans, LTV, credit reports (or lack thereof), property types, etc. East West Bank is one of the best examples. Specializing in Chinese commercial investment, East West Bank grants loans (typically between $3 million and $30 million) to investors that might otherwise not be able to attain financing. This bank has chosen to be selective, rejecting some applicants, while employing a strong connection to Chinese culture to remain competitive and a noted voice in this type of investment (Commercial Observer, 11). As of 2013 East-West had an average LTV of 55% across their commercial real estate loan portfolio (we could not find a more recent stat on their LTV rates), making them a fairly conservative lender (East West Bank, 12). Note that this is not a set policy where all investors receive the same terms. East West is selective and adapts to their situation. BofI Federal Bank is another major player that offers portfolio loans to foreign national borrowers (minimum $300,000, maximum $10 million) at up to 50% LTV.  Borrowers have to come in with a large amount of cash, but credit scores are also not required for evaluation. A&D Mortgage lends to foreign investors, but operates only in south Florida. They will lend up to 70% LTV on up to a $15 million loan on single family, condo, and condo-hotel property types (Scotsman Guide, 13). The takeaway is that foreign ownership of real estate is a big business and lenders are carving out niches to capitalize on the opportunity. Some are willing to assume more risk than others with higher LTV ratios or proof of credit in their underwriting standards, but overall there are opportunities for foreign buyers to obtain the financing they need. There are potential hurdles to investment in the form of capital controls in foreign nations. China, for example, typically only allows one of its citizens to take $50,000 out of the country in a given year (Bloomberg, 14). Exceptions for investment and pooling of money allow the substantial investment in real estate we see, but these types of regulations do inhibit some investment So what are the affects of this foreign investment on U.S. real estate markets? This external boost to domestic real estate markets can contribute to increasing prices in some cities, which makes sense. Healthy, competitive markets can create price inflation.  Buyers may not appreciate the costs of these strong markets, but sellers obviously benefit. This effect is more noticeable in some cities than others. Very expensive cities like San Francisco and New York see a substantial percentage of real estate transactions involving foreign investors. Chinese investors, for example, spent $9.56 billion on commercial acquisitions in New York City alone between 2010 and 2015 (Asia Society, 1). And while Chinese purchases still make up a small proportion of sales in the overall U.S., Chinese buyers do buy 1 in 14 homes sold for $1 million or more and Chinese buyers pay on average $831,000 for their homes in the U.S. as of last fall (more than three times as much as the median home price in the U.S., $239,700)(NY Times, 15; NAR, 16). It follows that these buyers are concentrating themselves in metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami (The Guardian, 17). A consequence of this foreign demand is that housing becomes less affordable for domestic buyers. According to the California Association of REALTORS®, as of the the fourth quarter of 2015, only 30% of households in California could afford to purchase the median priced home (39% the median priced condo or townhouse), compared to the 58% U.S. average (CAR, 18). While foreign buyers are obviously far from the only factor creating such a competitive housing market, they do play a role. This influence is actually most visible in the highest end of real estate. Although housing affordability issues impact lower and middle income individuals the most, the immediate impact of a drop in funding for foreign investment is most visible in expensive markets like Silicon Valley. Despite still having some of the lowest average days on market (DOM) stats in the country, a recent slowdown in investment from China is visible. With China’s faltering stock market and new controls on capital leaving the country coinciding with a 20% decrease in venture capital investments in Silicon Valley in the first quarter of 2016 from Q1 2015, the high end market slowed significantly (WSJ, 19). In April 2016 the average DOM was 16 days, compared to 11 in 2015 and 10 in 2014. The average DOM rose to 30 days in May (Bloomberg, 20). While still a fast market, that is an enormous proportional increase in DOM. While this is a small market where a handful of lingering properties can impact the statistics, the example is there: high end markets have become more dependent on foreign investment than other markets. Other high end markets could be susceptible to similar problems. Another impact is on cap rates in commercial real estate. The steep competition that foreign investment is contributing to has “kept cap rates suppressed” between five and six percent on average as foreign investors continue to perceive retail assets as “long-term stability” investments. (Globest, 21)   As demand for investment real estate increases and prices keep getting pushed up, cap rates will continue to decrease. Cap rates are staying low because expensive buildings--even with expensive leases and high operating income--are not seeing rents increase quickly enough to raise cap rates. Part of this is investors buying buildings that already have tenants with set leases. Until the lease is up the investor cannot negotiate higher rent to increase cap rates. Demand is another significant factor. Investors are willing to pay a high price for a property with long-term appreciation in mind. This means paying higher prices than one would pay if they were solely using income to evaluate the investment.  Consider the example of the Government Pension Fund of Norway from earlier. Their focus is so much on income - it was purchased at a 2.9% cap rate. But that return provides some short-term benefit while the overall value of the property provides the long-term investment incentive. While some of these effects seem negative, consider a few benefits. Foreign investment helped the housing market recover after the crash as valuable dollars continued to flow into the market. It may not have been a comfort to those losing their homes, but it was beneficial to the economy. And foreign investment also generates tax revenue. While this may not be a benefit that many people think of, a strong real estate market does provide valuable tax revenues (with benefits such as funding public schools). So what happens if the foreign investment dries up? If foreign investment in real estate has become a significant factor in the strength of the market, it follows that there should be concern about the longevity of this investment. First, there is little reason to fear foreign investment ceasing. Even with China’s increased internal controls on capital leaving the country, there is enormous demand for American real estate. This demand is created in a number of ways (mostly explained above). As long as the U.S. is a major economic player on the global stage (which is inevitable for the foreseeable future), there will be demand. Abundant coastline and large metropolitan cities that create high prices for domestic buyers also draw foreign buyers. If there are fluctuations in this foreign demand they should act just as a fluctuation in domestic demand. Days on market could increase and thus draw down prices, but as foreign investment is still far from a majority of investment, this effect should not be as strong as when domestic demand falters. In some cities there could be less effect as domestic buyers find they can afford homes when competition is slightly decreased. Take Away At the end of the day there will always be people concerned about foreign outsiders buying their cities or driving up prices for the local population. Calls for higher taxes on foreign investment and other restrictions will never cease. But it is our position that barriers to the influx of foreign dollars into real estate markets other is not a sound decision. Without foreign investment the last recession and housing market crash would have dragged on longer, harming the same people that investment controls would allegedly protect. Strong real estate markets do create affordability issues in some cases, but also the potential for job creation with new construction and the subsequent affected industries and buying power of employed workers. And while some may not approve of this influence, it is a difficult position to tell property owners that they should receive lower selling prices when they sell their property because international buyers are not investing in the market. The U.S. real estate market is not completely dependent upon foreign investment, but it is significantly influenced by it (in some local markets much more than others). It is unlikely that this will change in an increasingly globalized economy. Sources 1) http://www.naiop.org/en/Magazine/2016/Spring-2016/Finance/Cross-border-Investment-in-US-Commercial--Real-Estate.aspx 2) http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/reports/2015/2015-profile-of-international-home-buying-activity-2015-06-18.pdf 3)            http://asiasociety.org/files/uploads/66files/Asia%20Society%20Breaking%20Ground%20Complete%20Final.pdf 4) http://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/GDP.pdf 5) http://www.wsj.com/articles/norway-fund-bulks-up-on-real-estate-1424795145 6) https://www.nbim.no/en/transparency/news-list/2014/fund-makes-new-investment-in-san-francisco/ 7) http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/14/business/dealbook/chinese-owner-of-waldorf-astoria-bets-big-on-more-us-hotels.html 8) http://la.curbed.com/2015/7/13/9941028/wilshire-grand-construction 9) http://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/how-international-issues-affect-foreign-investment-in-us-real-estate/ 10) https://www.skadden.com/insights/firpta-reform-impacts-investment-opportunities-us-real-estate 11) https://commercialobserver.com/2014/10/east-west-bank-poised-profit-chinese-investors-us-real-estate/ 12) https://www.scotsmanguide.com/pages/niche-lenders/foreign-national-and-itin-mortgage-loans 13) https://www.bloomberg.com/tosv2.html?vid=&uuid=133b14a0-4ea9-11ea-9274-c31866829c8f&url=L25ld3MvYXJ0aWNsZXMvMjAxNC0wNy0xNC9zZWNyZXQtc GF0aC1yZXZlYWxlZC1mb3ItY2hpbmVzZS1iaWxsaW9ucy1vdmVyc2Vhcw== 14) http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/business/international/chinese-cash-floods-us-real-estate-market.html?_r=0 15) https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_existing_home_median_sales_price 16) https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/16/chinese-pour-110bn-into-us-real-estate-says-study 17) http://www.car.org/marketdata/data/haitraditional/ 18) http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-boosts-efforts-to-keep-money-at-home-1441120882 19) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-17/silicon-valley-mansions-linger-on-market-in-real-estate-slowdown 20) http://www.globest.com/sites/geofferymetz/2016/05/23/retail-at-a-glance-whats-driving-foreign-investment/?slreturn=20160502123659
Real estate licensing stuff

Trended Credit Data and DU 10.0--What You Need to Know

Woman browsing the internet on laptop

As the lending industry evolves, changes are made to credit reporting. The newest of these changes is the emergence of a concept known as “trended credit data”. Equifax, one of the three major credit

As the lending industry evolves, changes are made to credit reporting. The newest of these changes is the emergence of a concept known as “trended credit data”. Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, has called it “the most important tool developed by the credit reporting agencies since the advent of the credit score” (CAMP source). Fannie Mae will be implementing trended data (TD) into its Desktop Underwriter risk assessment and automated loan underwriting software on September 24th, with the launch of DU 10.0. Currently credit scores provide a picture of consumer behavior at a moment in time—a snapshot of sorts—and do not necessarily demonstrate how a borrower has managed credit over a period of time. The trended credit data provides information over time, attempting to more thoroughly tell the story behind a credit score. There are many questions and concerns with this new system, so we have tried to address many of them here. How does trended credit data work? Trended data will typically go back 24 months. Right now trended data just means data on the use, balance, and payment history of revolving credit cards. Other information will likely eventually be incorporated and examined over time, but for now it is essentially an examination of credit utilization and actual payment amounts on these accounts. What exactly does this mean? With trended data, a viewer of a report will be able to view the way someone manages their credit card accounts in aggregate. Has their balance been slowly decreasing? Do they always pay off their card in full at the end of the month? Does the cardholder spend more seasonally (think summer vacations and holiday shopping)? What does their credit utilization rate (CUR) typically look like? This information is very useful for two groups of hypothetical loan applicants. First, consider three applicants for a loan. They all have the same credit score—720. Just looking at that number, it would be difficult to determine any difference in risk in lending (if other traditional factors like down payment and income are appropriate for their application). But logically we know those people could have different levels of risk (debt, late or missed payments, etc.). Now let’s say trended data shows us that one of those applicants has an increasing aggregate balance across their cards, one has stayed roughly even and is making payments, and the other is demonstrably lowering aggregate credit card debt over time. Obviously the applicant with rising debt is more risky than the others. Along the same line of thought, the applicant lowering debt is likely the safest—they already have a good credit score, but are following debt management practices that suggest that in the future their score would be even better. The other group of hypotheticals is the applicant that has good credit, a good application, but shows a high credit utilization rate. This means that their aggregate credit card debt is near their overall credit limit. This is a factor that can lower credit scores and is typically a red flag for approving an application (in the event the credit score is still in an acceptable range). Trended data can show how this debt has been accumulating and what the applicant’s debt management usually looks like. If the applicant is a seasonal credit utilizer that always pays off the debt the next month, then there is far less concern. In this case trended data may help someone get approved that normally would not have at that time. DU 10.0 will allow underwriting for borrowers without credit scores. Currently this requires manual underwriting, and manual underwriting for these people will continue in some cases. To underwrite, a three-in-file merged credit report and evidence of at least 2 trade lines that stretch back at least 12 months will be required. One of these trade lines must be housing (rent payments), but the other can be anything, such as payments on a cell phone bill. There are more hoops to jump through as far as qualifications (proof of income, bank statements, loan-to-value ratio limits, etc.), but any applicant with no credit score should not expect a traditional process. What does this mean for consumers trying to qualify for a mortgage? Applicants with good scores but increasing aggregate balances across their cards are going to have more problems qualifying for loans than they did in the past. Upward trends in this debt indicate measurable, substantial increase in risk. According to the California Association of Mortgage Professionals (via TransUnion), these borrowers are 33-55% riskier (CAMP source) than similar borrowers who pay off their accounts in full every month. People with decreasing aggregate balances on credit cards are going to fare better in the application process than in the past. These people are considered relatively lower risk and the process of trended credit will help these borrowers prove creditworthiness. Under this system it is likely that rapid credit fixes (like paying off a credit card) will have an impact on score and likelihood of receiving a loan, albeit a smaller impact than before due to the fact that trended data will be able to determine overall riskiness of debt management, not just focusing on one or two good recent decisions. While Fannie Mae is changing the way it looks at credit and underwriting, it does not actually anticipate a substantial change in the percentage of approvals. Through better risk assessment they anticipate more accurate approval, but this does not necessarily mean that the number of qualified applicants is lower. It just means that the number of those who would have been approved in the past, but will not now, is roughly equal to the number that would not have been approved in the past, but will now. Who is NOT Affected by TD?  Other popular sources will not yet be impacted by TD. Freddie Mac will not (yet) be using trended data. FHA and VA applications to DU will not be impacted yet by trended data either. It is quite possible that these programs will all be impacted by TD soon, but at least for now TD is just relevant to Fannie Mae products. FICO credit scores and VantageScores will also not include trended data in their calculation. There will also be the same vehicle for borrowers to dispute data as currently exists. Likewise, Adverse Actions and the required disclosures will also be the same. SOURCES https://www.fanniemae.com/content/fact_sheet/desktop-underwriter-trended-data.pdf https://www.corelogic.com/downloadable-docs/trended-data-faq_external.pdf “Trended Credit Data and DU 10.0”, a webinar presentation, California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP)
Real estate licensing stuff

Update: Section 8 Housing Legislation Stalls

Red van parked outside of section 8 housing

We wrote recently about potential updates to Section 8 housing law in California. S.B. 1053, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would have made it illegal for a landlord to deny a housing applicant

We wrote recently about potential updates to Section 8 housing law in California. S.B. 1053, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would have made it illegal for a landlord to deny a housing applicant because they receive Section 8 assistance. This bill failed to move out of the Appropriations Committee, ending the possibility of the bill passing and becoming law. The California Apartment Association (CAA) had opposed the proposed legislation for a few reasons. Owners and operators working with Section 8 have to abide by a different set of regulations than those strictly governed by state and local law, so CAA thought this regulatory burden should remain voluntary. These landlords must also cooperate with the local housing agency to receive their payment and many landlords believe this complex system (coupled with accusations of government inefficiency in payment) decrease the economic viability of their properties. Lastly, the cost of insurance for Section 8 voucher properties can be higher (as much as 20% higher, according to the CAA). These concerns prompted the CAA to oppose the legislation. For now, Section 8 policies are unchanged in California.
Uncategorized

New Rules for Using Drones in Real Estate

Flying drone taking pictures and recording video of houses

A couple of months ago I wrote about the restrictions on the use of drones (also referred to as UAS) for commercial purposes. Some real estate professionals had become interested in aerial photography

A couple of months ago I wrote about the restrictions on the use of drones (also referred to as UAS) for commercial purposes. Some real estate professionals had become interested in aerial photography and videos for their listings, but without a pilot’s license and a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) any commercial use was illegal. The FAA has now announced finalized rules on commercial use of drones that make operation more accessible. If you are interested in using drones in a real estate business, here is what you need to know: The pilot’s license requirement is gone. The drone operator must be at least 16 years old and have a “remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate.” This certificate comes with a passed aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center or a Part 61 pilot certificate with a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. This new rule is much less stringent than the old rule, but still requires commercial drone operators to understand the rules of air traffic and and pass a TSA security background check. A real estate professional cannot just buy a drone, attach a camera, and start flying it for commercial purposes or pay someone else to do it unless they also have passed the requisite tests. There are assorted safety rulesin place—the industry is not being entirely deregulated. Operators of drones must keep them within their line of sight, below 400 feet altitude or within 400 feet of a structure, and at or below 100 mph groundspeed. UAS may not be operated over any persons “not directly participating in the operation” unless they are under a covered structure or inside a covered, stationary vehicle Operation is permitted during daylight hours and during civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise and 30 minutes after official sunset) with appropriate anti-collision lighting There is little word on any updates to the fines of violation of this policy. We know from the past that the FAA will fine those that unlawfully use drones for commercial purposes. SkyPan was fined $1.9 million dollars and industry experts expected fines to typically fall in the $1,000-$10,000 range before this rule. There will be a new fine of at least $500 if an operator causes serious injury or property damage with the UAS and does not report the incident to the FAA. The FAA believes these changes are important to safely “spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives” with impacts ranging from our real estate industry to the ability to “deploy disaster relief”. The FAA cites industry experts who believe the rule could generate more than 100,000 jobs and $82 billion for the economy over the next 10 years. The next potential regulations will deal with privacy and data collection issues. The FAA does not currently regulate how UAS gather data, instead deferring to local and state privacy laws. It is possible that commercial use regulations will be created to address these concerns. What do you think about the use of drones in the real estate industry? Is this a fad or will it become more common? Comment below or reach out to me at cody@adhischools.com for any questions or clarifications.
Real estate licensing stuff

Expedited Real Estate Licensing for Veterans

Usa military veterans walking off of plane

In what should be exciting news to any Veterans looking to pursue a career in real estate, effective July 1st the initial licensure processing for all honorably discharged Veterans will be expedited. S.B.

In what should be exciting news to any Veterans looking to pursue a career in real estate, effective July 1st the initial licensure processing for all honorably discharged Veterans will be expedited. S.B. 1226 added Section 115.4 to the Business and Professions Code (BPC) and requires that all boards within the jurisdiction of the Department of Consumer Affairs “expedite, and may assist, the initial licensure process” for any applicant that can prove honorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces. This includes the licensure process under the California Bureau of Real Estate. The Salesperson Exam/ License Application also provides the details for this expedited process. There is no word yet on how expedited the process will be, but considering the process can currently take several weeks this should be a valuable perk for Veterans. We at Adhi Schools would like to thank all Veterans for their service and remind our readers that Veterans receive a 25% discount from our live packages if they choose Adhi for their real estate education. We are proud to say that we have many Veteran students who have completed our programs and we always provide the highest quality real estate education to those who have served our country.
Practical advice for real estate agents

Can a Criminal Still Have a Real Estate License?

Go to jail on gameboard

Like any professional license, a real estate licensee can have his or her license suspended or revoked for various reasons. Criminal conduct is one of those, which makes sense considering the responsibilities

Like any professional license, a real estate licensee can have his or her license suspended or revoked for various reasons. Criminal conduct is one of those, which makes sense considering the responsibilities of a real estate agent. Few people would want to be represented by someone they do not trust while relying on that person for financial advice, showing their home, and handling the paperwork to buy or sell property. Passing the California real estate exam does not equal an endorsement of one’s character and there are a lot of reasons why trust in your real estate agent is important. The good news is that in California, if a real estate licensee breaks the law there is a possibility that they will have their license suspended or revoked, protecting potential clients. The California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) runs background checks before granting licenses and reserves the right to deny them if an applicant has been convicted of a “substantially related crime”. Sections 480 and 490 of the Business and Professions Code define this as an act that may be deemed substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a real estate licensee, with more specific details of applicable conduct available here. Because the background check process involves fingerprinting, CalBRE is notified by the Department of Justice and the Bureau immediately begins an investigation to determine if the crime is substantially related. Disciplinary action can then be taken, including suspension or revocation of the license. While this seems to be conveniently outlined by the law, below are a few cases that show how broad the phrase “substantially related crime” is. We have pulled real examples of disciplinary action from the CalBRE “Verify a License” section on their website, but have chosen to leave the individuals at the center of these cases relatively anonymous out of professional courtesy and good taste. Case #1 is relatively straightforward—a real estate broker failed to properly oversee trust funds in his control and negligently allowed a shortage of $111,828.27 to occur. It was determined to not be a case of intentional mismanagement. and the broker license was revoked with a right to a Restricted license. The broker went on (a few years later) to regain a non-restricted broker’s license. In Case #2 a real estate salesperson was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a child in connection with public intoxication. CalBRE believed that the cruelty to a child convictions were serious enough to revoke the salesperson license because of the threat of substantial injury to the children. Although CalBRE offered a path to a Restricted license, it doesn’t appear that the licensee performed the required steps to obtain this. In Case #3 a real estate salesperson was convicted of felony assault and his license was revoked as the crime was substantially related to the qualifications, function, and duties of a real estate licensee. In this case there has been no action to restore the license or grant a restricted license to the offender. What these three cases illustrate is CalBRE’s commitment to maintaining the standards of the real estate profession. The system in place recognizes, assesses, and meets a crime with appropriate disciplinary action. Few would argue that Case #1 and Case #3 should be met with identical punishment and they were not. While there is always the possibility for poor judgment or an appeals court overturning a CalBRE decision (which has happened), the system is in place for a reason and often functions well. On top of the potential for a loss of license, if an agent or broker is a REALTOR® and is found to be in violation of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, disciplinary action from the local REALTOR® association can include fines and suspension of REALTOR® membership. Many crimes would result in a violation of this code, so criminal offenses can be met with considerable consequences even if CalBRE or the courts decide that a license will not be suspended or revoked. As always, for questions or clarifications just leave a message in the comment section or reach out to cody@adhischools.com . We welcome your opinions.
Uncategorized

California and Illegal Immigrant Tenant Rights

For rent sign outside of a single family home

Illegal immigrants, undocumented workers, illegal aliens—whatever the chosen vocabulary, there are millions of people residing in the United States and California that fall into this category. Illegal

Illegal immigrants, undocumented workers, illegal aliens—whatever the chosen vocabulary, there are millions of people residing in the United States and California that fall into this category. Illegal immigrants live somewhere and with California’s notoriously high prices, renting is the only option for many. This raises questions for the landlord. Can you ask about immigration status? Do you have to rent to an illegal immigrant if you do not wish to? Are illegal immigrants reliable renters? California law prohibits a “landlord or any agent of the landlord” from inquiring about the immigration or citizenship status (or compelling a statement about immigration or citizenship status) of a “tenant, prospective tenant, occupant, or prospective occupant of residential rental property”. That same section of code does allow the landlord to request information or documents in order to verify an applicant’s identity and/or financial qualifications. Remember, illegal immigrants can receive driver’s licenses in California and it is illegal to discriminate in employment or housing because of the nature of a driver’s license. Asking for identification documents might turn up one of these driver’s licenses. The person will not have a Social Security number, making it more difficult to verify information and financial capability. However, credit screening companies can run a credit report without a Social Security number if they have information such as the Individual Tax Identification Number. Because of this the California Apartment Association (CAA) recommends not rejecting applications because they do not have a Social Security number. Rather, they recommend a credit report and allowing the applicant to submit other evidence of financial stability, such as payment history on monthly bills like utilities. If at this point the applicant does not demonstrate adequate financial qualifications, there is significantly less risk in denying the application (as opposed to immediately rejecting the application when it becomes evident the applicant is not a legal resident of the country). Whatever your screening process for tenancy applicants, put it in writing and follow it consistently. If someone is turned away—whether they are a legal resident of the country or not—and evidence suggests that another person was not turned away despite similar qualifications or lack thereof, it could be viewed as unlawful discrimination. As we discussed in our article about renting to convicted criminals, it is lawful to conduct an “individualized assessment” to determine if an applicant will be accepted for tenancy; what is not permitted is using this process to circumvent policy in a discriminatory manner. To put it into context for this article, if strict financial standards are put in place to rent (which can have legitimate purpose), it would be risky to specifically use individualized assessments to allow only citizens or legal residents of the United States to rent from you in order to weed out illegal immigrant applicants. The bottom line is if an individual meets all other requirements to rent from you, it is risky to turn them away. If the applicant does not provide a form of identification along with evidence of financial qualifications, they can be rejected without risk (after all, it does not matter where someone is from, if they cannot prove who they are then those financial qualifications only prove someone is qualified to rent). Without a genuine reason (think finances, certain types of criminal record, etc.), however, discriminating against illegal immigrants in the State of California is not an advisable practice. As always, for questions or clarifications just leave a message in the comment section or reach out to cody@adhischools.com . We welcome your opinions.
Practical advice for real estate agents

Medical Marijuana and Tenancy in California

Medical marijuana in jar

Medical marijuana, the controversial practice that flies in the face of federal legal classifications of the drug, has been a troublesome topic for landlords for some time. While California landlords have

Medical marijuana, the controversial practice that flies in the face of federal legal classifications of the drug, has been a troublesome topic for landlords for some time. While California landlords have had the right to prevent tenants from smoking in their residences under existing smoking laws, the law lacked the clarity needed to assure landlords of the legality of medical marijuana smoking bans. A new bill working its way through the state legislature would clarify the law. California Assembly Bill 2300 is authored by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) and is sponsored by the California Apartment Association (CAA) and supported by the California Association of Realtors. It specifically states that individuals permitted to smoke medical marijuana may not in “any location at which smoking is prohibited by law or prohibited by a landlord”. Marijuana is essentially being treated much more like tobacco. This will not give landlords the legal ability to prevent individuals with a medical cannabis card from consumption of marijuana in any noncombustible form, including the use of edibles, oils, pills, patches, or vaporizers. The language of the bill specifically states smoking is prohibited with no language addressing these methods. AB 2300 passed through the assembly floor on May 5th with broad bipartisan support—of the 80 potential votes, 77 votes yes and 3 were either absent or abstained. It is currently at the first reading stage in the state senate, meaning a vote should occur in the near future. If it passes—which looks probable given its bipartisan success in the assembly—it will move to the governor’s desk to be signed into law or be vetoed. If a landlord chooses to exercise this right, clear, specific lease agreements are crucial. Just like any other provision of tenancy, landlords should make it clear that they are renting with conditions in mind. If this bill becomes law and landlords can treat marijuana like tobacco, it would still be wise—if for no other reason than convenience down the road—to clearly explain this policy and present it in a leasing agreement. Clear communication is a safe practice. We will be sure to update our readers as this process unfolds. As always, for questions or clarifications simply comment below or reach out to cody@adhischools.com
Practical advice for real estate agents

So Your Renter Applicant Has a Criminal Record

Criminal background check paperwork being filled out

You’re a landlord and you receive an application for one of your vacant units. You get excited, looking forward to the income, but then you learn that the applicant has a criminal record. What do you

You’re a landlord and you receive an application for one of your vacant units. You get excited, looking forward to the income, but then you learn that the applicant has a criminal record. What do you do? Maybe it matters what the crime is. You might feel comfortable renting to a nonviolent offender convicted twenty years ago. Maybe mental illness was involved and the convicted individual has demonstrably undergone successful treatment. But what about a sex offender or someone recently convicted of running a meth lab in their last residence? Obviously the type of crime and amount of time since the conviction will impact your perception of risk. So what do you do? You want to protect your property and other tenants. Landlords must be careful to ensure that their reaction to these situations is not perceived as unlawfully discriminatory. While no state or federal law prevents discrimination that solely targets criminal offenders, it is illegal for the practice to discriminate against protected groups such as racial minorities, regardless of intent. On April 4th, 2016 the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that their interpretation of the Fair Housing Act is that any policy or practice that is “facially neutral” but has a “disparate impact on individuals of a particular race, national origin, or other protected class” is “unlawful”, unless the policy or practice is “necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest”. This is where the type of offense and the period of time since the conviction come into play. While refusing to rent to an arsonist who burned down his last apartment building can be considered legitimate, discriminating against someone with a petty theft conviction may be more difficult to justify. Especially if it turns out that you are turning away members of an otherwise protected class and you don't have uniform standards. The last requirement is an evaluation of potential, less discriminatory, alternatives. In the event a policy is challenged and upheld as lawful, HUD or the rejected tenant can examine alternatives. The landlord does not need to search for alternatives to their legal policy—this burden falls on HUD (or the potential tenant to recommend a HUD-approved policy). But change could be prompted if HUD finds the necessary interest of the policy “could be served by another practice that has a less discriminatory effect”. This could be a mandate to include an “individualized assessment” that allows the potential tenant to prove good tenant history since the conviction, evidence of rehabilitation, etc. This may not change the decision for the individual appealing the rejection of their application, but in theory it would make the policy less discriminatory over time. And in October of last year HUD allocated $38 million to more than 100 groups to fight housing discrimination. Legal challenges to these policies should be anticipated. So, unless you end up rejecting candidates in proportions that match your population, you could wind up on the wrong end of allegations of illegal discrimination. Thus, it is important to have a well thought out, comprehensive, consistent standard for these situations. And, if in doubt, contact legal counsel specializing in these issues. In summary, here are the rules to keep in mind to best protect yourself: Consider the nature of the crime Consider how long it has been since the conviction Apply your standard consistently—exceptions are risky!
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Section 8 Housing: Change Coming in CA?

Beige section 8 housing building in los angeles

The Section 8 housing voucher program is at the center of recent debates in the California legislature and in the Appellate Division of the Sacramento Superior Court. Section 8 is designed to provide housing

The Section 8 housing voucher program is at the center of recent debates in the California legislature and in the Appellate Division of the Sacramento Superior Court. Section 8 is designed to provide housing for very low income families, the elderly, and the disabled: the federal government provides the funding and local housing agencies distribute vouchers that essentially guarantee a portion of the rent to a landlord. The Section 8 recipient pays a portion of the rent and the housing agency sends a check for the remainder. Landlords have long chosen whether or not they would participate in Section 8. Federal law does not require landlords to participate, so states typically follow those guidelines. Now, however, arguments are being made that landlords should not be able to reject applications to rent for the reason that their income is from a Section 8 voucher. The court case of Sacramento Manor v. Morris was of particular importance in this debate. Court proceedings began when Sacramento Manor ended its participation in the program, eventually evicting any remaining Section 8 tenants. The Sacramento Manor cites difficulties receiving payment on time as a significant reason for their intended exit from the program (an issue they blame on government administration of the Section 8 program, not the tenants). A tenant, Dorothy Morris, was sued for eviction and in her appeal claims elderly tenants and Section 8 tenants should be considered protected classes under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. In February the California Apartment Association (CAA) filed a court brief arguing that participation in the Section 8 Housing voucher program should remain optional for landlords. The CAA claims “a myriad of valid business and policy reasons why owners should not be forced in to the program and why it should remain voluntary as intended under federal law”. In the brief the CAA also argues that the voluntary nature of the program is designed to incentivize people to join the program and that landlords should not be forced into permanent arrangements. Last week the plaintiff chose to drop the Section 8 protected class argument (for which the CAA claims credit), ending the threat to landlords—for now. Without the legal precedent of a court ruling, another person could bring a similar suit to court with a chance of success. Meanwhile, State Senator Mark Leno (D, Senate District 11) has authored SB 1053, which ,if passed and signed into law, would classify those receiving Section 8 vouchers as a protected class under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, meaning discriminating based on a potential tenant receiving Section 8 vouchers would become illegal.According to Senator Leno, “All tenants should have a fair opportunity to apply for housing, regardless of whether they receive a housing voucher”, receiving support from housing-specific advocacy groups such as Housing California. This would also mean that the recent developments in the Sacramento Manor v. Morris court case would become irrelevant as the legislature (and subsequently, the governor) settles the issue itself. California’s legislature has a strong Democratic majority and the state also has a blue governor, so it is quite possible that this Democrat-sponsored bill will in fact become law. The bill is currently placed on Appropriations Suspension file, meaning it is waiting to advance to the floor for voting. Real estate professionals should keep an eye on these proceedings as they could greatly impact the renter’s market in California. There is also the obvious need to understand any and all protected classes in order to avoid discriminatory behavior in your business practices. We will be sure to update our readers as soon as possible when there is a development. For questions or clarifications, start a discussion in the comments or write to the author at: cody@adhischools.com
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Interest Rates on the Rise?

Interest rate charts in black and white

Anyone involved in the real estate industry knows that interest rates are currently near historic lows, which makes sense—the government does not want to slow down spending in a sluggish economy. There

Anyone involved in the real estate industry knows that interest rates are currently near historic lows, which makes sense—the government does not want to slow down spending in a sluggish economy. There has been speculation for months that the Fed would raise rates (it has to happen eventually) based upon the health of different sectors of the economy. This speculative waiting was put to rest (at least for a moment) on Wednesday (4/27/16) when the Fed announced that it would not be raising its benchmark rate yet. The Fed wants its monetary policy to remain “accommodative, thereby supporting further improvement in labor market conditions”, providing continuing hope for the recovering housing market. Although the Fed has not changed its rates, Freddie Mac’s Mortgage Rate Survey showed a jump from 3.59% to 3.66% from last week for the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This is a climb from all of April, but no need for alarm. March had higher rates and February spent most of the time right around the 3.66% figure. Last year at this time the average rate on these loans was 3.68%. So disregard any alarmist articles or discussion about the significance of this rate jump. So what does all of this rate talk mean for the housing market? Well, lower rates tend to free up investment. Some analysts have praised the Fed’s decision, noting that unemployment figures are not yet ideal and the low rate policies have been working. And although mortgage rates have climbed over the last week, they are far from high. We will keep an eye on this situation and report back with any updates, but for now rates do not appear to threaten the housing market. For questions or clarifications, start a discussion in the comments section or contact the author at: cody@adhischools.com
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Too Many REALTORS®?

Blurred image of a crowd of people walking across the street

If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in the real estate industry. Maybe you are considering getting your license or you’re a veteran REALTOR® pondering change. No matter the situation,

If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in the real estate industry. Maybe you are considering getting your license or you’re a veteran REALTOR® pondering change. No matter the situation, anyone in the industry wants to know what competition and opportunity looks like in their area or an area they’re interested in operating in. Most REALTORS® probably have a pretty good idea of where other REALTORS® work. Large states with large populations like California, Texas, Florida, and New York obviously have more REALTORS®—common sense. Some states (like Florida, again) also have a reputation for having a lot of REALTORS® compared to the overall population. We decided to look up some figures to see which states had the most REALTORS® per capita. Check out the Top 10 rankings! States are ranked by the number of people per REALTOR® (so since Florida’s number is 133.74, there is one REALTOR® for every 133.74 people). Florida— 133.74 Arizona— 161.31 Hawaii— 162.14 Nevada— 191.96 New Jersey— 205.53 Utah— 221.66 Idaho— 226.05 California— 229.44 Connecticut— 232.27 Colorado— 237.84 No surprise with the top 3 states—they were the top 3 in 2012 as well. But there are a few significant changes in rankings. Washington, D.C. was 4th in per capita REALTORS® in 2012, but now sits at 12th. Utah is a newcomer to the top 10, sitting at 6th. Idaho made the biggest jump in rankings within the top 10 since 2012, moving from 10th to 7th as the number of REALTORS® per capita there grew faster than Colorado, California, and Connecticut. And although some states did not make a big rankings jump, 8 of 10 states in the top 10 (all except for New Jersey and Connecticut) now have more REALTORS® per capita than they did in 2012. Of the “Western” states, only New Mexico and Washington fell outside of the top half and 7 of the Top 10 are Western states: becoming a REALTOR® is clearly a more common career path in this part of the country than others. These numbers can be viewed in a number of ways. Some states with dense REALTOR® populations may look like a difficult place to make a living as a REALTOR®, but that state may have a very active housing market that is drawing people to the industry. While there is no guarantee of success, California, for example, has a strong housing market with rising prices—a good REALTOR® can capitalize on the situation. Likewise, a state with very few REALTORS® per capita may represent a golden opportunity. Just consider New York: it is the only state that is in the top ten for total REALTORS® while being in the bottom half for density (ranked 34th, while having the 4th highest population in the U.S.). With a huge population and a relatively sparse REALTOR® population, it is easy to see why one would seek financial success and choose to become a REALTOR® in the state. Any REALTOR® reading this knows that these statistics show how competitive or open a market is, not a guarantee of success or failure. At the end of the day these stats should serve as motivation to perform better, not as a deterrent from entering a great field. For complete rankings, questions about methodology, etc. contact Cody at cody@adhischools.com Sources: https://theamericangenius.com/housing-news/report-density-of-realtors-in-each-u-s-state/ http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/reports/2016/membership/03-2016.pdf
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Selling Your Home With Solar Panels

Black solar panels on roof of southern california home

On the surface, solar panels appear to be a great selling feature for a home. The prospect of lower utility costs are appealing to everyone and many buyers love the idea of “going green”. Because solar

On the surface, solar panels appear to be a great selling feature for a home. The prospect of lower utility costs are appealing to everyone and many buyers love the idea of “going green”. Because solar panels are increasingly common in residential real estate, the professional REALTOR should be properly informed as to the impact these panels can have on a transaction. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association the number of homes and businesses with solar panels has exceeded 748,000 in the United States and growth is expected to continue, so this topic will only become more relevant. Especially if you are taking real estate classes in Los Angeles you’re going to be dealing with houses with solar panels frequently and it’s important to know a few things once you are licensed. It's important to note that the installation of solar panels on homes does not automatically equal an increase in value. In some instances solar panels can actually lower property value, even in areas that have high utility costs. The desirability of the panels is often determined by whether the panels are owned or leased. If the homeowner purchased the panels, there is evidence to suggest that the home could gain value (sometimes more than $15,000), because long-term utility bills are predictably lower and solar power is viewed as a property improvement. However, solar leases are often viewed as less desirable. No-money-down solar lease offers have enticed some homeowners to agree to long term leases—sometimes upwards of 15 years. With the lowered bills and no upfront costs, this seems like a fiscally sound choice—and it very well may be for the original owner. Yet problems can arise when the homeowner tries to sell their home with the leased panels. Potential buyers find themselves signing up for a solar lease with steep credit qualifications that could act as a deterrent. Although solar companies such as Clean Power Finance claim that 95% of the time the buyer either assumes the lease or the owner pays it off, that still leaves 5% of potential transactions where the looming costs or credit qualification issues break a deal. Many people simply do not want to assume the responsibilities of a deal they did not negotiate and may struggle to qualify for, particularly if they have an agent that views the lease as a poorly negotiated deal. The result can be that a potential buyer may back out of a contract or demand that the seller pay off the lease before they leave. Homeowners with a time constraint like a job relocation may be forced to pay off a $15,000+ lease so they can close a sale and move on. These problems don’t arise on every property with leased panels, but it can happen to a substantial number of homeowners who initially thought they were improving their property. These owners optimistically invest in their homes, but when they decide to sell they find themselves in a position to lose money on their investment. This is in no way an attempt to dissuade anyone from buying or leasing solar panels or agreeing to represent a seller in this situation. It is simply something to keep in mind: not every dollar spent is a dollar gained.
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Drone photography in the real estate industry

Drone flying taking pictures and video recording real estate property

Drones - also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by the FAA - are being increasingly used for commercial purposes. Real estate professionals often want to use drones to improve their photography

Drones - also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by the FAA - are being increasingly used for commercial purposes. Real estate professionals often want to use drones to improve their photography and videography - it’s undeniably sexy. Drones offer amazing visual perspective on property that would basically be impossible any other way. I know many of our real estate school students see videos on YouTube of listings and wonder how they can get cool aerial shots like this on their listings. It's important to remember that it is currently not legal to operate a UAS for commercial purposes without a Section 333 Waiver from the FAA. Here is what you need to know about these waivers and the concept of using drones for your business. A pilot’s license is necessary for a Section 333. A broker can’t just buy a drone and fill out a form to get permission for commercial use. You are allowed to hire someone with a Section 333 to operate a UAS for commercial purposes for you. If you really want aerial pictures of your listing, but do not want to go through the process of getting your own pilot’s license, just hire someone who already has permission from the FAA. You can take steps to protect yourself. UAS operators can get insurance for their aircraft to limit liability. If you choose to contract a UAS operator, ask for proof of insurance. The National Association of Realtors also points out that you can also request that the operator “indemnify you against any actions, suits, damages, losses, costs and expenses” from the operation of the UAS. If the operator crashes the drone into someone’s house (or worse, into someone), you don’t want to be liable. Penalties Nearly all drones must be registered now, whether they will be used for recreational or commercial purposes. There are already steep fines in place if a drone is not registered. The repercussions become much more serious when commercial usage is involved. Consider this case, where a company was fined $1,900,000 by the FAA for flying unregistered drones without permission in an allegedly unsafe manner. The implication is that the penalties will vary (unauthorized UAS usage in big cities with crowded air traffic will result in bigger fines than flying in a small suburb) but the FAA is serious about enforcement. Some in the commercial drone industry expect fines to typically fall in the $1,000-$10,000 range, which is significantly less than $1,900,000 but still a lot of money. The FAA website asks citizens to report crashed or suspicious drones to local law enforcement and there is no reason to believe threats of enforcing these laws are empty. The bottom line for the real estate professional is to hire a company that can legally fly UAS for commercial purposes. If you don’t know what you're doing and fly illegally you could potentially hurt someone or damage property. Even if neither of these occur you could still be in serious trouble with the FAA. It just isn’t worth it. New rules have been proposed and will likely come into effect soon. Follow the link if you intend on operating a UAS and want to see the potential changes coming.
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Are Realtors independent contractors or employees?

Employee bene paperwork in folder

For tax, compensation and work hour requirements real estate salespeople have long been classified as independent contractors, not employees. It isn’t hard to see why brokers prefer this - they aren't

For tax, compensation and work hour requirements real estate salespeople have long been classified as independent contractors, not employees. It isn’t hard to see why brokers prefer this - they aren't required to reimburse for business expenses, provide health care benefits or pay the employer share of payroll taxes. It would cost brokers a great deal of money and completely change the real estate profession if agents weren’t contractors. In a recent class-action lawsuit Bararsani v. Coldwell Banker (2015), the plaintiffs alleged they were misclassified as contractors when they should have been employees. Part of the rationale was that the broker exerted so much control over their day-to-day activities that they could not be contractors. The case eventually settled outside of court in January, with the $4.5 million settlement to be split by approximately the 5,600 members of the suit. Before plaintiffs see any money the court awarded $1.5 million to the attorneys. It’s important to remember that a settlement is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. Coldwell Banker maintains that they have done nothing wrong and will continue their business practices as before. This means no new employee classification for agents and no new benefits. This challenge to current business practices is not just occurring in California. A similar case (Monell v. Boston Pads, LLC) was dismissed in Massachusetts and the real estate agents were confirmed to be contractors. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors considered the Monell case to be a significant win for the real estate industry because brokers were not forced to change their business practices. Plus now they have a strong court ruling to support them. The Bararsani case is not as definitive a victory for those wishing to keep agents classified as independent contractors as a settlement was reached. The overall issue of independent contractors vs employees is not going away. Uber Technologies, Inc. has found itself in numerous federal lawsuits over the issue (with an interesting emphasis on employment being determined by amount of control the employer exerts over the subordinate) that could end up impacting the real estate industry indirectly. Uber will eventually go through a jury trial to decide the classification of its drivers and if they are determined to be employees in a federal court, independent contractors all across the nation could find themselves in a stronger position to sue for employee status. The Bararsani v. Coldwell Banker settlement may not be the last of this issue.
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Teams in Real Estate

Realty company team meeting to discuss potential housing market opportunities

I got my license in 2002 and have seen many real estate partnerships flourish and work well. I’ve also seen partnerships end in bitterness and hatred due to missed expectations and disappointment. One

I got my license in 2002 and have seen many real estate partnerships flourish and work well. I’ve also seen partnerships end in bitterness and hatred due to missed expectations and disappointment. One mentor of mine famously said “If partnerships were good God would have had one.” With that being said, your chances of being successful can (not will) increase if you find the right partner or get on the right team. Everyone has heard the saying “two is better than one” and if you want to succeed, a team can help you in areas that you are naturally weak. Part of the temptation associated with starting or joining a team is the perception that it is the path of least resistance. For the rookie agent, starting out on a team may mean that they will be fed with leads so they won’t have to prospect as hard. For the “rain-maker” or team owner, the allure is that they can somehow take themselves “out" of the business and everyone else will do the work for them. One person will handle all the CMA’s while another will show property for you while another will act as a transaction coordinator for your files. I saw a YouTube video recently where a prominent real estate “coach” was speaking to a group of real estate agents about building a business. In the video he talked about having members of your staff all aspects of your business while you can be “in Mexico sipping a margarita on your phone saying keep up the good work team!” This dangerous “get rich but do nothing” philosophy is a large part of why it has become so en vogue to form teams in the real estate business. It’s tempting to think about because it makes the real estate agent think that they can somehow delegate all of the heavy lifting to someone else and avoid working. This rarely works and is a recipe for disaster. I would highly recommend that before you start or join a team you have very clear expectations of your role and the roles of other team members. Sometimes things are a lot easier to get into than get out of.
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Social media posts and the Realtor's Code of Ethics

Instagram app icon on older iphone

Good REALTORS® are used to thinking about the Code of Ethics. Beyond the ethical guidance it provides, it is also a professional obligation. But what about the application of the Code of Ethics as it

Good REALTORS® are used to thinking about the Code of Ethics. Beyond the ethical guidance it provides, it is also a professional obligation. But what about the application of the Code of Ethics as it relates to social media? While the Code is typically very clear, it's application to social media can be ambiguous. Between “private” accounts, character limits, and inexperience applying the code to online behavior, it is easy to forget the Code of Ethics or overlook some of its provisions. This could result in an ethics hearing or even a lawsuit. Keep the following rules in mind to avoid finding yourself in trouble over an easily preventable situation. Assume everything you post is public. It isn’t just the content you publicly post—whether it be to your Facebook wall, as a Tweet, or a comment on someone else’s public post—that you should be concerned about. Even private messages on a social media platform can come back to bite you, particularly if you choose to say something disparaging about another real estate professional or a client. Messages you meant to be private can be saved and shared with anyone. A quick screenshot of an old Facebook message can be a serious problem. Give credit where credit is due—clearly. Let’s say your close friend is also a real estate professional. You attend a broker's open and you decide to share it on social media. No biggie - you think it is an amazing opportunity and include the address. Maybe you post a picture of the property. You think nothing of it—you aren’t trying to steal the listing. A week later you receive notice of an ethics complaint, alleging you violated Article 12 of the Code of Conduct. Someone (perhaps your friend’s employer?) objected to you posting about the property without making it absolutely clear that you were not the listing agent and obtaining consent to advertise the property. While you may think you are being unnecessarily attacked for helping your friend, you cannot assume everyone will feel the same way. There are case interpretations of Article 12 at realtor.org covering similar situations. The simplest way to avoid this situation is to not make posts like this. But if you choose to, make it very clear who is listing the property and that you are not associated with the listing. Don’t complain on social media either. While it might be possible to find yourself in hot water over social media posts made with good intentions, it is definitely possible to run into trouble over negative or disparaging posts. Consider another hypothetical. You had a listing on a property that expired. The next day, your clients sign with a new agent. You have suspicions the new agent had solicited his or her services to your clients while your agreement was still active, but you have no way to prove it. Your former clients refuse to speak about the subject. Lacking evidence of an ethical violation you choose to not file a complaint . Instead you post a vague message on your personal Facebook page about the frustrations of your job and stolen clients. Maybe a friend or family member comments, asking if this is about the house you had not been able to sell. Perhaps another person comments about one of their experiences with a shady real estate agent. Your former client’s new agent finds out about this post from a friend (a realistic possibility, I’m sure you could think of a handful of potential common connections in a few seconds), obtains a screenshot, and files a complaint with the Professional Standards Committee alleging a violation of Article 15 of the NAR Code of Ethics. The agent claims that you are knowingly and recklessly making unsubstantiated false and misleading statements. The moral of the story: don’t complain about business on social media. Between clients, employers, and rival agents, someone can and will find something to be offended by. A perceived breach in contract or code of ethics could result in the loss of a client or even a job. Cover your bases with personal accounts. It is common knowledge that REALTORS® are required by the Code of Ethics to disclose their status as a REALTOR® when carrying out business. But what about on a personal social media account? If you keep your personal and professional accounts separate, you shouldn’t have any problems. But separation is key. If your friend shares a listing for their house that is on the market, “sharing” it further might be kind and helpful. But, as a real estate professional, you would then be required to make it clear that you are a REALTOR®, that you are employed by Employer X, and that this is not your listing. This might seem unnecessary (particularly if you have a relatively small number of friends on social media and aren’t operating a prominent account), but it is a far better option than a formal complaint when someone decides that you misrepresented yourself. Keep private information private. It is easy to let information slip in conversation. You tell a friend about a commission or a client that was trying to downsize after losing a job. While this might constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics, you are also unlikely to find yourself on the receiving end of a formal complaint. Talking about these topics on social media—regardless of whether or not you’re doing this in a private message, a public post, or a private group of some sort—is not just a violation: it’s a paper trail. You’re best off not violating the Code of Ethics (it’s in place for a reason). But you’re worst off leaving evidence of violation that you committed without malice or the desire to damage the reputation of another person. Leave private information out of social media. Be smart—even if you come out of a Code of Ethics hearing unscathed, you will still have wasted your time and possibly damaged your reputation - your most important asset. The few hypothetical situations in this post are realistic and just scratch the surface of what can be done on social media. Good intentions won’t prevent an ethics hearing. It’s common these days to reach for our phones and rant. Just remember - someone is always listening.
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Not a citizen? No Green Card? No problem!

Us department of citizenship and immigration services logo

I received this email from the Bureau of Real Estate and I wanted to share it with all of our stakeholders. This is to inform you that all individuals who submit an application for a real estate license

I received this email from the Bureau of Real Estate and I wanted to share it with all of our stakeholders. This is to inform you that all individuals who submit an application for a real estate license received on or after January 1, 2016 will no longer need to submit proof of legal presence in the United States. On September 28, 2014, the Governor signed Senate Bill 1159 (Lara, Chapter 752, Statutes of 2014), which adds Section 135.5 to the Business & Professions Code (BPC), changing the legal presence requirements to obtain a real estate license. Current law requires an individual to provide proof of legal presence (proof of U.S. citizenship or legal alien status), in the United States in order to obtain a real estate license. SB 1159, which becomes effective on January 1, 2016, will remove the legal presence requirement from the application process. Applicants will still be required to provide a social security number or an individual taxpayer identification number for licensure. Please make appropriate changes to your materials and inform your students of the changes to the requirements for licensure. What this will likely lead to is the elimination of the RE 205 form as well as the need to show either US Citizenship or the possession of a Alien Registration Card “Green Card”. We will update our processes as this date comes closer. This isn’t the forum to discuss the politics of this, but I wanted to let you know of the upcoming change. Best regards, Kartik Subramaniam
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Think selling real estate is hard? Consider this...

Aerial view of houses in a los angeles county neighborhood

Time for a serious discussion for all you new agents out there. Starting a career in real estate is not like starting a business. A career in real estate sales is starting a business. If this sounds

Time for a serious discussion for all you new agents out there. Starting a career in real estate is not like starting a business. A career in real estate sales is starting a business. If this sounds daunting to you, don't worry. Upon close examination, you will see that the revenue that a real estate agent can make relative to the amount of investment necessary is amazing. For a moment, let's compare real estate sales with other businesses like restaurants, clothing stores or most other businesses that you might think of. Imagine how hard it is to own and operate a restaurant, for example. You have to purchase supplies, hire staff and deal with dozens of customers on a daily basis. Don't forget rent each and every month. You're also going to need a phone line and probably Internet access. Additionally, you don't get to take time off randomly like you would as a Realtor. You don't get to create your own schedule. You have to be there six to seven days a week from open to close. Man... THAT'S HARD WORK. Compare this with real estate sales: You don't have to carry any inventory. Our inventory is out there ripe for us to sell! We have zero carrying costs and don't have to pay for the inventory (listings) that we have. You don't have payroll to make until you can afford it. If you owned a restaurant, bar, clothing store, coffee shop or almost any other business, you would have payroll obligations from day one. In real estate sales, you hire an assistant when you can afford to. You don't pay for an extra phone line or Internet access, your broker pays for this. Don’t kid yourself about how expensive business class telecommunications can be. Many businesses have a phone and Internet bill of several hundred dollars per month or even more! You only deal with a small number of select clients unlike the volume game played by most other businesses. Think of something as simple as a coffee shop. How many customers does a coffee shop have to deal with each and every day? Potentially dozens or maybe even hundreds. Every single customer has to leave happy. In our real estate business a successful Realtor might only have to deal with 20-30 clients over the course of an entire year. Yes, this means that each deal comes with more pressure, but you don't have the constant pressure you would have in a higher volume business. There are a ton of people who get into our business that come to the sad realization that buyers and sellers aren't going to beat down the doors of the newly licensed agent. This causes them to second guess the real estate sales business and dismiss it as "too difficult". They then start to blame the market.. "Hey nobody is buying anyway"... "Haven't you read the news lately? The market sucks..." The truth is that as Realtors, we don't know how good we have it in our business. Even as a new agent, over 50% of the gross revenue generated is ours to keep. Strong, experienced Realtors often get to keep over 80-85% of the gross revenue. Think of attorneys as a point of comparison. Attorneys typically bill out at $275-$450 per hour. Do you think that and average attorney working at a firm gets to keep that high of a percentage? Even half of it? No way. An associate at a law firm might be making $40-$50 per hour against the $250+ that they are billing. Yes the market might be down and prices are lower than they were in many parts of the country but real estate sales can be one of the most most rewarding business out there. This is true from an economic perspective as well as the inner feelings of fulfillment that comes from helping clients navigate the complex world of real estate.
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Online classes vs live real estate classes

Female student sitting on floor studying real estate prelicensing online

I love the Internet. Who doesn’t? However, ask yourself this question: Is the Internet a suitable substitute for an actual mentor? Listening to our competitors, you would think so. They try to

I love the Internet. Who doesn’t? However, ask yourself this question: Is the Internet a suitable substitute for an actual mentor? Listening to our competitors, you would think so. They try to sell students on the idea that online classes are more effective in teaching than live classes. We completely disagree. The Bureau of Real Estate requires that a student take 3 classes in order to qualify for a sales person license and 8 for a broker license. Each one of those courses has 45 hours of credit. The Bureau of Real Estate requires that for a home study course there be 10 pages per course hour in each textbook used by a real estate school. Each textbook, by statute, must be at least 450 pages. (45 hours x 10 pages = 450 pages) Now, ask yourself this: If you were to receive three (You need Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and an Elective course, remember?) 450 page books in the mail, would you have the patience and discipline to read each and every page line-by-line, absorb the material, take the exams online, and subsequently pass the state exam? Even if you made it through each book, how much do you think you would really learn from reading 1500 pages worth of course materials on your own? Taking an online course does not compare to the knowledge and guidance we have to offer through our live real estate program. Why then are so many other real estate schools online only? The answer to this question is probably a combination of several factors. First of all, from a business perspective live real estate courses are much more costly to run than a strictly online model. High quality instructors must be compensated for teaching and classroom space must be procured. These costs create a strong incentive for education companies to keep overhead to a minimum and do “online” only. All of our instructors are licensed and active real estate agents, and most are brokers. Isn't this the caliber of educator you would prefer in helping you begin a new career in real estate? Our program gives you the greatest chance at success. With the proper guidance and enough determination, every student can ultimately achieve their ambitions of becoming a licensed and successful real estate agent. Call us at 888 768 5285 or visit us online at www.adhischools.com for more information.
Practical advice for real estate agents

The power of a new start

Licence

Recently, I received an email from a broker-partner of ours at Prudential California Realty. Last November, Everything I thought I knew about myself changed abruptly, and what others perceived about me

Recently, I received an email from a broker-partner of ours at Prudential California Realty. Last November, Everything I thought I knew about myself changed abruptly, and what others perceived about me shifted, too. I had been conducting my personal life in an artificial way - as if detached from the values my upbringing had taught, and that I should have embraced. The physical pain from that car accident has long healed. But the pain in my soul is more complex and unsettling; it has been far more difficult to ease - and to understand. But this much is obvious now: my life was out of balance, and my priorities were out of order. I made terrible choices and repeated mistakes. I hurt the people whom I loved the most.  And even beyond accepting the consequences and responsibility, there is the ongoing struggle to learn from my failings. At first, I didn't want to look inward. Frankly, I was scared of what I would find - what I had become. But I'm grateful that I did examine my life because it has made me more grounded than I've ever been; I hope that with reflection welcome wisdom. Golf is a self-centered game, in ways good and bad. So much depends on one's own abilities. But for me, that self-reliance made me think I could tackle the world by myself. It made me think that if I was successful in golf, then I was invincible. Now I know that, no matter how tough or strong we are, we all need to rely on others. Slowly, I'm regaining the balance that I'd lost. My healing process is far from complete, but I am beginning to appreciate things I had overlooked before. I'm learning that some victories can mean smiles, not trophies, and that life's most ordinary events can bring joy. Giving my son, Charlie, a bath, for example, beats chipping another bucket of balls. Making mac and cheese for him and his sister, Sam, is better than dining in any restaurant. Sharing a laugh watching cartoons or reading a book beats channel-surfing alone. Some nights now, it's just me and the kids, an experience that's both trying and rewarding. Probably like the experience a lot of families have every evening around the world. When I first came back off golf this spring, after taking a necssary break, I was worried about how fans would treat me. But they've been kinder and more supportive than I ever imagined possible. That's true aways from the golf course, too. When I go to the store, or to work out, or to grab lunch, I've been amazed by the considerate, encouraging words I hear. I've realized that those sentiments are not merely courtesies but generous expressions of compassion for which I'll always be thankful. I have a lasting gratitude to those who stood by me in ways large and small. Unfortunately, opportunists are trying still to cash in on my troubles, no matter how irresponsible or ridiculous their claims may be. In many cases, I've never even met these people. But there's no way I can dispute each lie without provoking more. Besides, everyone has probably heard more than they ever wanted to about my private life. I can never truly repair the damage I've done, especially to my family. But I can keep trying. What endures in the record books are the achievements won through competition. What endures in our actual lives is the love of our family and the respect of others.  I know now that some things can and must change with time and effort. I'm not the same man I was a year ago. And that's a good thing.
Real estate market analysis

The majority of real estate offices in California have 4 or less agents

Brown office desk inside a small real estate brokerage office

In this month’s Real Estate Magazine, the official publication of the California Association of Realtors, an article was published about the size of most real estate companies in California. To my surprise,

In this month’s Real Estate Magazine, the official publication of the California Association of Realtors, an article was published about the size of most real estate companies in California. To my surprise, over 86% of all real estate brokerages comprise four or fewer agents. How does this statistic affect a new agent? My recommendation has always been to affix your license to a market leader. In most cases, the market leader is going to be a large organization with fifty or more agents. Most of these larger firms have a systematic training program and scale built up. This is especially important for a new licensee with very little to no real estate experience. When sitting across the negotiating table with a seller, it’s comforting to be able to lean on what your firm has done to help fill in some of the holes in your own experience. Besides being able to lean on the accomplishments of your office, it’s also helpful to be in a large office if you can develop synergies within the organization. If you want to to pick up buyer leads by holding a property open, for example, it’s easier to do that when you have 100 agents to approach and hundreds of listing to choose from. Also, being in a large office allows you to learn from the mistakes and failures of colleagues that have been in your shoes before. Check out this video of veteran Realtor, David Hurtado, talking about how he chose an office to work with when he was a new agent. Also, this video might help you decide on what office to work for.
Real estate market analysis

Undisclosed Short Sale Payments May Be Illegal

Short sale sign on top of for sale sign outside of home

Just got this email from CAR. Glad our industry is keeping an eye on things. UNDISCLOSED SHORT SALE PAYMENTS MAY BE ILLEGAL Undisclosed payments in short sale transactions, especially those paid

Just got this email from CAR. Glad our industry is keeping an eye on things. UNDISCLOSED SHORT SALE PAYMENTS MAY BE ILLEGAL Undisclosed payments in short sale transactions, especially those paid outside of escrow, may violate the law, including RESPA, laws against loan fraud, and licensing laws. Short sale agents have increasingly reported to C.A.R. about requests for agents and their clients to pay junior lienholders and others, oftentimes outside of escrow. One common scenario is when a short sale seller's senior lender authorizes a payment of $3,000, for example, to extinguish a junior lien, but the junior lender demands that the buyer pays an additional $9,000 outside of escrow. Not only would it be risky for a buyer to pay outside of escrow, but concealing this additional payment from a federally-insured senior lender may constitute loan fraud, which is a crime punishable by 30 years imprisonment plus a $1 million fine (18 U.S.C. section 1014)