A Home for the Holidays

Nothing says holidays like having your family gathered in your home while you celebrate what’s important. Around this time each year, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to list their houses. Similarly, others who already have their homes on the market remove their listings until the spring. Many sellers believe spring is the best time to put their home on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. What they don’t know is if every homeowner believes the same thing, everyone will list and buy at the same time and therefore encounter far more competition. According to NAR, the sweet spot for selling is November through January. Here are the top reasons why listing your clients house now (or keeping it on the market) may be the best choice they can make.

5 great reasons to tell your clients not to wait:

  1. Buyers at this time of year are serious. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now. At this time of year, purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. Your client and their family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere lookers. The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.
  2. The stage is set. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays. There is something about lights, bulbs and ornaments that make you want to cozy up and stay awhile.
  3. Prices are at a sweet spot. Over the past few months we’ve seen the supply of homes for sale decreasing year-over-year. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to Corelogic. If your clients are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind up costing them more in both down payment and mortgage payment if they wait.
  4. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop during the holidays. Buyers who were unable to find their dream homes during the busy spring and summer months are still searching, and your client's home may be the answer. According to NAR, the median days on the market for a listing was only 33 days last month!
  5. Competition is low. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge and reach new heights in 2020, which will lessen the demand for their house next year. Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings! In 2018, listings increased from December to May. Don’t wait for these listings and the competition that comes with them to come to the market before your clients decide to list their house.

Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe homes sales will increase steadily over the next year. Real estate is impacted by the economy (and the consumer’s belief in the strength of the economy). The fact that most economic experts are calling for the recovery to continue through 2020 means the housing market will also remain strong for the foreseeable future. If you have a homeowner who has considered selling their house recently, let them know that now may be the best time to put it on the market.

 


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Tips and Tricks to Pass your Real Estate Exam

If you are like me, deciding to get your real estate license is a big deal. You’ve spent time looking for the best exam prep course for the best price and now you’re signed up to take your exam. You’ve circled the date on your calendar and the pre-test jitters are setting in. You have questions like “how much should I study? and "what should I study?” Every state's exam may be slightly different but the test taking skills you will need are universal. Here are some of the best exam taking tips to help you pass your exam.

Obviously the most important factor in passing the real estate exam is knowing the material. However, don't lose sight of the goal: passing the test! Learning is great but you can't use what you've learned if you don't pass.

  1. Start by only answering the easy questions. Read the entire exam and only answer the questions you absolutely know the answer to. This will give you a sense of progress and your subconscious will begin thinking about the questions you skipped. When you’ve got a timed test, there’s always the concern that you’ll get hung up in a section and not be able to finish the test. Don’t be one of those people--unanswered questions are marked wrong. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the last three questions on the test were easy ones— guaranteed points for you--but you wound up just having to fill in a random answer on them because you didn’t have time to actually read and think about them? By skipping through the questions you don’t know the answers to and focusing first on the questions you do know the answers to, you’re assuring yourself that you get time to answer the questions you are most likely to get right.
  2.  If you don't know it, wait. Skip questions if you don't know the answer--don't waste time on questions you don't know. For example, if math is difficult for you, skip the math problems until after you finish the rest of the exam. Occasionally, the answer to an earlier question will be revealed in a later question. It is not uncommon on the real estate license exam to have questions that relate to one another, like using the same purchase or sale scenario. These hidden answers are another reason why reading all the way through the exam once at the beginning is a great idea.
  3. Don't second guess yourself. As a general rule, once you've answered a test question, don't change your answer even if you're unsure of the answer you selected. It has been statistically proven that you are much more likely to change an answer from correct to incorrect. An easy way to get tripped up on the real estate licensing exam is to misinterpret an answer choice, thanks to complicated wording. Deceptive language is fair game on tests like this, so double-negatives, unrelated conclusions, or red herrings (especially in the math portion of the test) are common. Do your best to puzzle it out, but ultimately move on without answering if you estimate having to spend more than a minute thinking about the correct answer.
  4. There is no penalty for guessing. Once you have gone through the exam at least twice, time may be running short and now would be a good time to start guessing. The worst that can happen when you guess on a question is that you don’t get any point. The best thing that can happen though, is that you have a one in four shot at getting a point. Unanswered questions are marked wrong, and it is far better to take a chance on a wrong answer than eliminate any possibility of getting the correct answer. That being said, you can increase your odds by trying to make an educated guess--there is likely at least one answer that is obviously wrong, so don't guess blindly: read the question and answers first and choose the most likely answer.
  5. Don't compete with other applicants. You're given plenty of time to complete the exam and you should use as much of it as you need. Don't worry if other examinees finish before you do, most likely they are taking a completely different exam. All types of exams are given in one room. You may be sitting next to a plumber taking his exam or a beautician completing hers. If by chance, there is more than one real estate hopeful, remember that many students who finish quickly… fail.

Real estate licensing exams are pass/fail, there is no extra credit for a perfect score. If you’re like me, the allure of a perfect score on a test is hard to ignore, but in the case of the real estate licensing exam, we must. Remember, your goal is to answer the number of questions correctly that will get you a passing score. Use all your best energy to get to the passing threshold—anything beyond that doesn’t matter.

Bonus Tip: do as many practice real estate exam questions as you can. The test is multiple choice and you will perform MUCH better if you've been doing practice tests that mimic the exam. Use a trusted service like ours to prepare for the actual real estate exam.

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A Thriving Brokerage at Your Finger Tips

Brokers are driven. Of the fastest-growing real estate firms, 82 percent have a clear and focused vision for the company. Like any business in the real estate industry, brokerages must grow ahead of the communities they serve in order to flourish and profit. Growth is change and with change there is always risk. If you have your own brokerage, you’ve accepted the risk already. If risk makes you nervous, think about the larger risk of stagnation. There are plenty of business models out there so choosing one can be difficult. A good foundation for exponential growth in the real estate market is only a few steps away.

  1. Clients Come First: We need to behave like advisers, not salespeople. It’s our job to represent our clients, not coerce them into spending money. They’ve come to you because they’ve likely decided it’s time to make a move. Help them reach a decision. Of course, you should ask your clients lots of questions, but first try being quiet, listening and letting them talk about what they want and are willing to pay. Don’t rush them, but always call or email back quickly with useful information.
  2. Incentivize Your People and Delegate Responsibility: You and your fellow brokers are putting in long hours—52.7 hours per week on average, according to JP Morgan Chase Institute. One-third of your time is spent out of the office, meeting with clients, working from home, commuting, and traveling to other market areas. There is room to be more efficient. Leaders need lieutenants. If you grow, you’ll need someone to help you oversee your expanded business. Pick an agent in your office with the respect of his or her colleagues. Make them a senior associate, grant them responsibility and compensate them accordingly. A great incentive plan would be to hang a wall-sized map in your office. In blue, highlight municipalities where you commonly sell homes. In green, highlight where you want to expand. In red, circle neighborhoods where your agents rarely venture. If someone sold a house in a red zone, buy lunch for the office. Nothing fancy, but your agents will work hard to be the one everyone thanks for lunch.
  3. Research & Plan Your Marketing: Periodically analyze your brokerage’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Can you leverage your strengths to take advantage of opportunities? Are your weaknesses leaving you vulnerable to threats? Research and determine the most successful ways to improve sales and brand reputation. Measure against benchmarks when recruiting agents, spending on advertising, or testing new ad platforms, focusing on new geographic areas, investing in new technologies or other tactics. According to NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 95 percent of all recent buyers used the internet at some point during the home search process. With this, you know your potential clients are looking at property online from their phones, so make sure your website meets those needs as you continue to grow your firm. Learn from your mistakes. If your marketing plan isn’t bearing fruit or your new ad campaign doesn’t improve your brand recognition, move on. Identify why it didn’t work and factor the answer into the next solution. Don’t be complacent. Be a problem solver, every day. Plan your day and work your plan.

 


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Colder Temperatures Cool Down the Colorado Real Estate Market

Over the past year or so, the media has deceivingly discussed the decline in the real estate market across the U.S. Will there be another 2008? Is another recession around the corner? While these words may instill some fear, that’s where the tall tale ends. Real estate projections in most of the nation all show steady continual opportunities. Most states, Colorado included, are seeing continued above average home sales for this chilly time of year.

After a 6 year long hot real estate market, it is to be expected that the market will cool down. The residential and commercial markets in general remain strong and agents are just now seeing properties remain on the market for longer. Coloradans have seen inventory increases and that’s resulted in increased price reductions and concessions. To put it simply, sellers can’t be as aggressive in their pricing strategy because the market is going from one (sometimes even less) homes per buyer to three or four. This increase gives buyers more options to choose from and less competition when putting in offers. After a heavy multiple offer scenario market, a cool down is a good thing.

Today, nine out of ten home buyers require financing to purchase property. Fortunately, interest rates are lower than this time last year. This dip in interest rates means that buyers shouldn’t just look at the sales price, but also factor in the cost of the loan. Buyers purchasing homes under $500,000 have some big advantages this time of year. Typically, November through February is a great time for buyers to purchase a home and more people should take advantage. Moving expenses are far lower and the power of negotiation and available choices have multiplied.

For agents, buyers and sellers, winter isn’t the easiest time for home showings because of the weather. For agents, this is a great occasion to spend time with family for the holidays and to complete your required continuing education.

This time of year can be stressful enough, completing your continuing education doesn’t have to be! With Real Estate Training Institute, you can stay in and use any internet enabled device to complete your courses.


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Alaska Real Estate: It’s Time to Renew!

Top 5 Things to Know Before Renewing:

  1. All Real Estate Licenses expire on January 31 of even-numbered years regardless of when first issued (except new licenses issued within 90 days of the expiration date will be issued to the next biennium).
  2. Licensees who receive their original license within 12 months of the expiration date pay the full license fee and then at their first renewal pay a prorated renewal fee (half of the current license fee).
  3. You must renew your license on or before the expiration date to continue to practice in Alaska. There is no grace period to practice on a lapsed license.
  4. Renewal forms will be mailed at least 60 days before the expiration date to the last address you provided to the board. You must report all new addresses to the Board in writing.
  5. Before a license can be renewed, real estate licensees must complete the following for maintaining continuing competency:
    • An 8-hour continuing education core curriculum
    • 12 contact hours of continuing education in elective topics

This time of year can be stressful enough, completing your continuing education doesn’t have to be! With Real Estate Training Institute, you can stay in and use any internet enabled device to complete your courses.

 

We provide: Alaska approved continuing education that meets your elective credit requirements. You will receive your CE Course Completion Certificate immediately upon completion.
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Michigan Broker Faces Charges for ‘Ponzi-type Scheme’

A civil lawsuit was filed against Viktor Gjonaj real estate broker and founder of the firm in question Imperium Group LLC, which collapsed in mid-August after he stopped going to work. No fewer than six lawsuits have been filed against Gjonaj in recent weeks in Oakland and Macomb counties alleging he owes nearly $5 million to a variety of investors and contractors.

A series of Michigan real estate deals that Gjonaj did in Macomb, Genesee and Montcalm counties over the course of the last few years alleges that Gjonaj doctored purchase agreements to make it appear to investors as if they were buying ownership interests in properties around the state, when in fact they were already owned by the plaintiffs, Krstovski and Masakowski.

One lawsuit filed in Oakland County in August states that a loan was made to Gjonaj totaling $1.5 million to buy the Monroe Center retail strip mall. In another complaint, Gjonaj is alleged to have secured a $2.475 million loan from another investor in exchange for membership interests in five limited liability companies, including two — Manchester Wilshire LLC and JVD I LLC — in which neither Gjonaj or his companies had a membership interest, according to court documents.

Still another lawsuit claims Gjonaj hasn't paid for $197,000 worth of work on a $2.25 million mansion that was being built for him in Washington Township that was allegedly purchased with investor money.

Gjonaj’s response to the allegations at this time have been brief. He states that he “lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief" on the veracity of some of the allegations in the August complaint, including: whether there truly was a Ponzi scheme; if Gjonaj has already left the country to avoid prosecution; and if he fraudulently altered (real estate) purchase documents in order to 'sell,' really defraud, unsuspecting investors, interests in those and other properties that did not exist or that Gjonaj did not own.

At this time the case has been brought before civil court and they are accepting additional complaints as they come in.

 


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Five Easy Steps to Get your Texas Real Estate License

So you decided to become a Texas real estate agent? That's amazing news! It’s a decision that can put you on a career path where you have more control over your schedule and income, but first, you have to earn your Texas real estate license. Getting licensed for your new career in Texas real estate might seem a bit overwhelming, but we’re here to guide you through the process. This real estate licensing information summarizes the minimum requirements established by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). To begin you must meet the following initial qualifications:

Qualifications

  • Citizen of the United States or lawfully admitted alien
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Resident of Texas
  • Meet TREC’s qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity.

Once you meet the initial qualifications, it's time to get started on the path to a great career! Read on for a further breakdown of the path to becoming a licensed real estate agent in Texas!

Step 1: Complete your Qualifying Education

For a Sales Agent: 180 Classroom hours of the following qualifying real estate courses

  • Principles of Real Estate I (30 hours)
  • Principles of Real Estate II (30 hours)
  • Law of Agency (30 hours)
  • Law of Contracts (30 hours)
  • Promulgated Contract Forms (30 hours)
  • Real Estate Finance (30 hours)

Education course completion documents must be submitted to TREC after applying online or with your paper application.

Step 2: File Your Application

Apply Online – Submit your application and fee to become a Sales Agent ($205) using TREC’s Online Services log in now. If you don’t already have a username and password for Online Services, you’ll need to register first.

Apply by Mail – You can also apply for your Sales Agent license using TREC’s paper application. This may take longer to process, and you will need to pay a paper filing fee ($20).

*You have one year from the date your application is filed to meet all license requirements.

Step 3: Get Your Fingerprints Taken and Pass Your Background Check

You are required by law to have fingerprints on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) so a background check can be performed.

Step 4: Take the Exam

License exams are administered by PearsonVUE.

You will be sent a notice with instructions for scheduling the exam and obtaining a copy of the exam Candidate Handbook.

Step 5: Find a Sponsor

After meeting the above requirements, you will be issued an inactive Sales Agent license. You need to be sponsored by an active Texas licensed broker to work. You can complete a sponsorship request using TREC’s online services. Once the broker has accepted your request, your active license will be issued, and you can work as a Sales Agent!

  • 90   hours of qualifying post licensure real estate courses, including the following, are required after receiving your license and within your first year:
    • Property Management (30 hours)
    • Real Estate Sales and Marketing (30 hours)
    • Real Estate Marketing (30 hours)

 

We provide: Texas approved qualifying education that meets all of the requirements to take your salesperson exam, required post-license and continuing education courses.
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Prevent Danger and Keep Yourself Safe!

Recently at an open house in southern California a real estate agent was attacked by a man posing as a prospective buyer. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in and therefore real estate agents must remain vigilant and prepared. Agent safety can be tough when your job requires you to perform independently. To avoid issues, agents should be proactive and take safety into their own hands. The first step to doing so is to understand that safety is your responsibility to yourself.

Recognize the Traits that Make You Vulnerable

Agents always want to look well put together and professional, however, there are a few safety issues that should be discussed. For example, do not wear expensive jewelry and if possible, leave your purse in the trunk of your vehicle. These small details can make all the difference when an attacker is deciding if you would make a good victim.

Respond, Don’t Ignore

Typically, agents are taught to be polite and accommodating, so they will often ignore signs that something is wrong.  Experts on agent safety emphasize the importance to listen to your instincts.  Many agents who have been assaulted, like the agent previously mentioned, ignored the client’s unusual behavior before the attack.

Reduce Your Chances of Becoming A Victim

Ask clients for identification. Establish a special form for clients that includes contact information and a copy of the ID or driver’s license. Meet clients in the office first. This will prevent clients from trying to harm you later, because they know someone else can identify them. When showing a client, a house, avoid walking ahead of them or getting into confined places, like basements, with them.

Take Responsibility—Learn Self Defense

Agents are exposed to danger on a regular basis when they’re doing their job, and even more so for those who are not professionally trained to defend themselves. We know it’s rarely possible to have another trusted person accompany you while driving clients to showings or with you during every open house. That is why we created an online course for you to learn about personal safety and self-defense. We will help you plan ahead and make yourself a less appealing target. You will learn about safety responsibility, safety threats and safety measures to name a few. Remember the key is to let others know where you are, when you will be back and have an excuse to leave if ever you don’t feel comfortable with your circumstances.

These are just a few of the many valuable skills you will learn when taking Certified Training Institute’s Personal Safety and Self Defense 4 Hour CE Course. Real Estate Professionals: learn valuable safety skills and meet your continuing education requirements at the same time. Be prepared for the unexpected, visit Real Estate Training Institute, choose your State and take this class today!

 


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Falling in Love with Your Open Houses this Autumn

The beginning of autumn is like a breath of fresh air--a bit of relief from the offensive summer heat is more than welcome at this time of year. Real estate professionals can capitalize on buyers' eagerness to enjoy fall by bringing the best of the season into their open houses. By using the weather to your advantage and creating some seasonal charm, your open houses will be a hit!

Potential home buyers are likely to purchase a home before the holiday season gets in full swing--this means they will be more serious and ready to make an offer as soon as they find the right fit.  Here are some tips to planning a sensational autumn open house.

Up the Curb Appeal

Set the tone the second interested buyers walk up with a festive fall wreath and doormat. It’s an easy way to add color and style to the front entry, which is great for curb appeal. A doormat invites people in and can add a touch of personality. Bonus: the doormat can also help keep the floors clean.

Focus on Lighting

Lighting can be just as important during an open house as it is in your real estate photographs. Make sure any exterior lighting is working properly and utilize a mix of lamps and ceiling lights to create the perfect ambiance. Don’t go overboard with scented candles or similar items--some viewers may be allergic to the smell. To play it safe, look into electric candles or other lighting sources that can make your property glow without upsetting potential buyers.

Serve Seasonal Refreshments

Providing refreshments for an open house is an excellent, low cost way to incorporate fall touches into your open house. Think about pairing warm cookies with FAQ sheets on the neighborhood or hot cocoa next to a printed floor plan. This personal touch, while small, can make a big impact. Potential buyers will feel comfortable in the space and leave with all the information they need.

Add Autumn-Inspired Elements to the Decor

Continue the autumn theme throughout the house by adding touches of seasonal decor: fall-colored throw blankets and pillows on the couch, a pumpkin cookie jar and apple-cinnamon potpourri in the guest bathroom.

Open Up the Windows

Now is the best time of year when you can open the windows and let the crisp, clean air inside. If you have a fantastic view or outdoor living space, opening the doors and windows can also call attention to the features.

Hosting a memorable fall open house will rely on your ability to make potential buyers feel at home in the space. Create a cozy atmosphere by relying on little fall touches. Keep the inside of the property warm and incorporate subtle fall decor. To make the house even cozier, you can leave out a few fall activities for kids like coloring pages or word puzzles. Between the activities, the warmer temperatures, and any other fall touches, potential buyers will fall in love with the property.

 


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5 Traits That Make a Texas Real Estate Professional

In Texas a real estate “salesperson” is far more than a person who helps to buy or sell homes for clients. That is merely the tip of the longhorn for what they really do which includes tasks such as: analysist, advocate, consultant, negotiator, media expert, and blogger just to name a few. Being a real estate agent in Texas means making yourself into a one-person show, but for those who are tired of the 9-5 Monday-Friday and have a desire for independence, this is just what your free spirit is looking for.

With that job description how do you know if a Texas real estate career is right for you?  We have compiled the essential qualities and traits that successful real estate professionals have and listed them for you below.

  1. Problem solver mindset
    Do you enjoy coming up with creative solutions to problems or issues? Thinking on your feet and solving issues creatively is sometimes all that stands between you and making a deal.
  1. Hustle and tenacity
    Being a top producing real estate agent requires a great work ethic. You must have the tenacity to pursue every lead and the hustle to aggressively market your clients’ properties in order to have success. It’s not just about putting in a lot of time—it’s about working smart and doing whatever is necessary to close the deal.
  1. Attention to detail
    Paying close attention to the details is imperative for your real estate career. Success comes from identifying and developing a focus or niche in the local real estate market that allows you to distinguish yourself from the competition. If you are organized, follow up with leads, communicate well, and pay attention to the needs of your clients, you will close more deals.
  1. Knowledge is power
    Staying up-to-date on the latest topics in real estate and in the local market will allow you to serve clients more effectively. Continuing education and professional development are doors to opportunity that you can utilize to expand your knowledge and stay at the forefront of the real estate field.
  1. Honesty and integrity
    Your professional reputation is crucial to a long and successful career in real estate. A good real estate agent doesn’t just sell properties—they sell themselves. It’s important to show your real personality. People will respond to you if you have a great attitude, are personable and honest and have confidence in your abilities.

At the end of the day, you get out of it what you put into it. There is a certain level investment needed (time, energy, and money) to make any business venture successful. Texas real estate is no different. If you find the idea of going into real estate tantalizing but you aren’t sure how to get started, or you are passionate about real estate and have similar traits to those outlined here, you have a great shot at having a long and successful real estate career in Texas. Why not get started today?