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.

 


ONLINE STATE-APPROVED CONTINUING EDUCATION

Start Now!
Choose Your State

Why YOU Should Get Your Real Estate License In Texas

Recently, cities like Austin, Houston and San Antonio have become an alluring option for young Millennials who dream of owning their own home. Young people are looking to Texas’s vibrant culture and lively economy to set down roots.

It is projected that by 2050, Texas will have a population of 54.4 million. As people flood in, the Lone Star state will become more and more urban. With more than 400,000 new arrivals each year, current Texans now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to flourish in a growing real estate market. That means that YOU should consider a career in Texas real estate and cash in on this profitable and highly rewarding career.

Getting your real estate license in Texas is easier than you may think. The Real Estate Training Institute wants to help you fast track to your new career, and our new Texas pre-license course is ready to help you do just that. Our program is fully approved by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), and it includes every subject you need in order to pass the licensing exam:

  • Law of Contracts
  • Law of Agency
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Promulgated Contract Forms
  • Principles of Real Estate I
  • Principles of Real Estate II

Making a career change can be nerve wracking, but a career in real estate is both rewarding and an opportunity to invest in your future. Our TREC approved courses are  a mix of video and text to help you study how you feel most comfortable. Additionally, our courses are available anywhere, anytime on any internet enabled device—making it simple and time effective to complete your pre-license education and get on the path to a rewarding new career today!

Two Real Estate Firms in Hot Water in Hawaii

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled with both Century 21 Homefinders of Hawaii in Hilo, and Coldwell Banker Island Properties of Kahuhui, Maui for violating the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Collectively the companies have agreed to pay more than $26,000 in penalties for failing to provide proper lead-based paint disclosure to buyers and renters of homes built before 1978 in Maui and the Big Island.

The companies were cited under the TSCA’s lead-based paint disclosure rule, which applies to housing built before the residential use of lead-based paint was banned in 1978. The rule requires sellers and lessors of pre-1978 homes to provide prospective home buyers and tenants with a federal brochure about lead-based paint, any information known about lead-based paint in the home, and a warning statement about the potential dangers of lead-based paint. Buyers also have the option to inspect pre-1978 homes before becoming obligated to make a purchase. With this knowledge, potential home buyers and tenants can make informed decisions about whether to buy or rent a specific residence.

Century 21 Homefinders of Hawaii has agreed to pay a $6,962 penalty to settle alleged disclosure violations. Coldwell Banker Island Properties paid a $19,344 penalty in an earlier settlement. Both real estate companies have certified that they are presently in compliance.

High levels of lead in blood can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and widespread health problems, according to the EPA, including reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems, and behavioral difficulties. Young children with developing nervous systems are most vulnerable. “Reducing childhood lead exposure and addressing associated health impacts is a top priority for the EPA,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker in a news release. “These settlements protect Hawaii communities by ensuring that lead paint rules and regulations are followed.”

Click here to learn more about the Disclosure Rule.

 


ONLINE STATE-APPROVED CONTINUING EDUCATION

Start Now!
Choose Your State

Tidying Up: The Importance of “Staging” for Home Sale

First impressions matter! One of the hardest challenges sellers face when listing their home is de-cluttering. Whether your client is moving up to a larger home, downsizing, or moving in with family, an open house is a great way to get your clients house noticed. Before scheduling your photographer to take photos of the listing, help your client commit to tidying up. Encourage them to sort through items and pack up all sentimental items now to keep them safe during the open house and to make moving that much easier!

Look through the buyer’s eyes as much as possible and tell it exactly as it is and not just what your seller wants to hear. Keep your target buyers in mind. Your next step should be to do a walk through with your seller and jot down any problem areas. You definitely don’t want to start preparing for an open house by making updates willy-nilly.  Depending on your client’s budget and time frame, create a list, putting top-priority issues that are sure to turn off buyers, first. Remember, today’s buyers are looking for move in ready properties. Below you will find the results of The National Association of Realtors Annual Profile of Home Staging. Notice all the benefits of having the home staged to truly benefit your principal.

As the big day for the open house approaches don’t forget to put on the finishing touches. The home should be in tip-top condition and ready for potential buyers. Here are a few last-minute details to really make the home shine:

  • Set out vases of fresh-cut flowers.They'll make the home smell nice and add a splash of color.
  • Let in the light.Buyers want a bright, open house, not a dark and dreary cave. Turn on all the lights and open all the curtains.
  • Adjust the temperature.Keep the home comfortable -- not too cold or too hot.
  • Serve food and drinks.A cold glass of lemonade in the summer or some warm, freshly baked cookies in the winter will encourage buyers to stick around longer, giving them more time to check out the home.
  • Have your client leave!They are probably proud of how fantastic the house looks, but they shouldn’t stick around to point this out to buyers. The last thing you want to do is make potential buyers feel uncomfortable. Tell them to spend the day out and about and let the perfectly prepped home sell itself!

 


ONLINE STATE-APPROVED CONTINUING EDUCATION

Start Now!
Choose Your State

Fannie & Freddie Experience More Delays

Nearly 3 years ago mortgage financing giants Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that changes were coming on the standard mortgage application. These were to be the first changes made to the application in 20 years. As the process moved forward, the new Uniform Residential Loan Application was supposed to make its debut February 1, 2020. The government – sponsored enterprises decided additional changes were needed and extended the time frame for it’s mandatory use.

“The redesigned URLA is the result of extensive collaboration with industry stakeholders,” said Andrew Bon Salle, Fannie Mae executive vice president of single-family business.

“We are proud to be a part of this effort that enables lenders to better serve their customers by providing ease and clarity to borrowers during the loan origination process,” Bon Salle said.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has requested more changes to the URLA form. At issue are questions relating to language preference, home ownership education and housing counseling. These questions have been moved to a voluntary form instead of being addressed on the main application. After revisiting these changes, additional changes are now being revised as well, including:

Redesigned format: Improved navigation and organization that will support accurate data collection and better efficiency for a more consumer-friendly experience.

New and updated fields: Capture loan application details that reflect today’s mortgage lending business and support both the GSEs’ and government requirements.

Clearer instructions: Simplified terminology enables borrowers to complete the loan application with less help from the lender.

Revised government monitoring information: Incorporates the revised Home Mortgage Disclosure Act demographic questions.

Spanish informational version: Will be available soon.

The new timeline for use is still unspecified as the changes will be assessed yet again to see what the impact will be to everyone involved. The timeline and new implementation dates will be released as soon as they are available until which time the new form is available, continuing the use of the current form is required.

 


ONLINE STATE-APPROVED CONTINUING EDUCATION

Start Now!
Choose Your State

The Importance of Home Inspections

It’s easy for home buyers to get swept up in the home buying excitement. They forget to make the important decision to get a home inspection soon after they are under contract. As a real estate professional, you know a home inspection will definitely give the buyer peace of mind and put the buyer’s mind at ease that their “Dream Home” is in good shape.

A good home inspection will assist your buyer in understanding exactly what they are about to acquire. Having a certified home inspector conduct a thorough inspection of the prospective property could be compared to taking out an insurance policy against all potential operating costs. Home inspections often reveal problems with a home that could be used as a great tool in purchasing negotiations with the seller.

Once the inspector and your client have completed the inspection walk through its up to you to assist them should there be questions. If all the issues are small, they may opt to move forward with the closing as is, however, if there are big problems with electrical, structural or any number of things, your client may wish to negotiate a new price or walk away from the sale completely. If there are large repairs, it would be prudent to have those repairs checked by the inspector and signed off on once they have been properly remedied.

Additional Inspections that should be considered are termite/wood destroying organism inspection and a radon inspection. While not required for most home loans, both of which can cause serious damage and can largely affect the value of the home. Home inspections are an instrumental part of the home buying process that can save your client a lot of time and money in the long run. Even if your client thinks they have found their “Dream Home” it is sensible to let them know the importance of inspections and that just because they can’t see what could be lurking, waiting to cause problems and cost more than they bargained for in their “dream home”, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

 


ONLINE STATE-APPROVED CONTINUING EDUCATION

Start Now!
Choose Your State

Nebraska Real Estate Professionals – It’s time to renew!

Brokers and Salespersons in Nebraska are required to complete 18 hours of continuing education each two-year licensing cycle.

If your license starts with an odd number your renewal is November 30, 2019.

 

The speedy housing market in Nebraska is thanks not only to fierce competition over a scarce selection of homes, but also the healthy economy and Nebraska’s “Nice” factor. Compared to East and West coast negotiations, which are like a sport, Nebraskans are nice, decisive and unwilling to take too much time or deal with the hassle of a long negotiation. Both Lincoln and Omaha are on the road to expanding their job market, inviting even more newcomers from larger more expensive cities causing homes to be bought even quicker. Nebraska home values are expected to remain stable. The job market in Nebraska is on the rise and the demand for housing is expected to increase. It is a great time to be a real estate agent in Nebraska!

Keeping up with your education is vital to your prosperity in Real Estate. Without completing the requirements, your license will be just another card tucked in a corner wallet pocket or the candy covered bottom of your purse.

Don't let your continuing education be the reason you miss out on all the commissions from the hours of hard work you put into listings, showings, contracts etc. We understand as an agent, your time is extremely valuable.  We know in the last few years "For Sale" signs have been flying off homes in Nebraska and thoughts of CE have been on the back burner.

In a recent interview Doug Dohse, president of the Omaha Area Board of Realtors, informed us that the market is about to change. He stated “There are just not enough homes for sale, that’s what’s driving [the fast market] more than anything else.” As the housing market begins to slow, now is the time to get your Real Estate CE courses complete. Currently, in both Omaha and Lincoln (more so than any other big metro area across the country) homes are spending on average only 32 days on the market before being snatched up. That doesn't give you much time to get your continuing education done but that's what makes our program so great! You can take your courses from anywhere, at any time and on any internet connected smart device, making it simple and time effective to complete your CE today!

 

We provide: Nebraska approved continuing education that meets all of your requirements. We will report your CE to the Nebraska Real Estate Commission after completion.
All classes are HD VIDEO or FULL NARRATION with PRINTABLE TEXT

Florida Real Estate License Fees Cut 50%

A little relief comes to FL Real Estate professionals beginning July 1, 2019. Gov. Ron DeSantis and DBPR joined FREC in announcing a fee change for 200,000 licensees in Florida.

The lower renewal cost begins with the next renewal cycle that ends on Sept. 30, 2019. The temporary fee reduction, which lowers license renewal fees by 50% for licenses of real estate brokers, real estate sales associates and real estate broker branch offices will continue through the renewal periods of licenses expiring March 31, 2020, Sept. 30, 2020, and March 31, 2021.

License renewal fees for real estate brokers will drop from $72.00 to $36.00 and from $64.00 to $32.00 for renewal as a real estate sales associate or broker branch office.

The upcoming license fee reduction is projected to result in an estimated savings of over $8.8 million dollars for eligible license holders in Florida. Pursuant to section 455.219, Florida Statutes, FREC is authorized to implement a waiver of license renewal fees for a period not to exceed two years when the profession's trust fund monies exceed the amount required to cover the necessary functions of FREC.


Don't let your license expire!

Here are the requirements needed to renew your Florida real estate license:

How do I renew my Florida real estate license?

Florida requires all real estate licensees to renew their license through their Online Service portal. If you have not already registered, you will need to do so before you may renew your license. Once you have registered, you will receive an email with a temporary password and then you will create your own unique, secure password. (Check your spam or junk mail folder if you don’t receive that email right away.) After you have successfully logged in you will be able to link your license to the online account you created.

Create your Online Account
Link Your License to Your Online Account

How much does it cost to renew my Florida real estate license?

$32 | Sales Associates
$36 | Brokers

CE Requirement 1st Renewal:

  • Sales Associate - 45 hours
  • Brokers - 60 hours

CE Requirement Subsequent Renewal: 14 Hours
Required Courses: 3-Hour Florida Core Law

Do you report my continuing education to the Florida Real Estate Commission?

Yes! We will report your course completion to the Florida Real Estate Commission. Rosters are submitted three times a week and can take 24-48 hours to be reflected in the FREC database.

Millennial Home Buyers: What They Really Want

Millennials love analyzing and making very informed decisions about everything in their life, given the Internet has made this process quite easy.

They have different expectations for their lives and look for uniqueness in all aspects. The majority of real estate markets nowadays consist of a large number of millennial home buyers. In 2018, Millennials were responsible for 1/3 of all home purchases. Millennials will continue to drive the market, especially as they become more financially stable.

It’s important to understand what features home buyers are looking for in a home and to know how to make sure those features are being showcased, especially when targeting Millennial home buyers. Here are the top 4 selling points Millennials are looking for in their home. 

  1. Walkable location and accessible amenities
    • Proximity to work and play options are high priorities to this group. Contrary to popular belief though, Millennials are targeting suburban communities with a short drive to a big city for social interaction. 
  1. Move-In-Ready, Single Family Homes
    • Millennials are eager to swap their rental apartments for single family homes. Homes that require little maintenance appeal to this market so that they may spend weekends relaxing instead of completing repairs & maintenance. 
  1. Energy Efficiency & Technology:
    • Millennial home buyers want to have complete control over their systems. This generation will pay more for automated or voice-activated devices like HVAC systems and appliances. 
  1. Fancy Outdoor Space:
    • Weekend entertainment is especially important to this generation. As such, must-haves include fenced-in backyards, patio areas and outdoor cooking areas. Millennial buyers want to create a relaxing outdoor retreat. 

It is important to understand what Millennial buyers, those born between approximately 1980-1995, want in their next home. Location, community amenities and energy - efficient features all factor into their buying decisions. Since they make up such a large portion of today's potential home buyers, it’s vital you understand the above things they are looking for when shopping for home. Homeowners and real estate agents who understand these things and who know how to highlight them greatly improve their chances of a quick and profitable sale.

THE VIRTUAL REALITY TOUR ADVANTAGE

The benefits of using virtual tours to attract real estate buyers have multiplied over the years. Virtual tours attract qualified prospects and increase conversion rates so much so that now, you can’t afford to run your real estate business without having virtual tours on your website.

Virtual tours have turned out to be an effective tool in engaging customers with their selected real estate professional. Instead of staging a time consuming and strenuous open house event, a virtual tour remains open for anyone who wants to visit. This saves you valuable time and resources, as such, this customized approach reaches your target audience leading to an increased chance of a sale. The market is increasingly competitive and most prospective home buyers check online listings before contacting an agent or viewing homes in person. Drones can help your online listings leave a lasting impression on potential clients and when you use virtual tours for real estate, the customers are more likely to engage with your company as great visuals have more captivating power.

When you use a virtual tour, you can present all types of information related to the project in the presentations. Drones are a great tool for capturing the scope of homes and properties. For example, drones can be used to provide a moving tour through the inside of large homes, giving prospective buyers a much better idea of property layout and dimensions than photos. Drones are also useful for displaying properties with magnificent views or large yards. Home buyers are keen to know about the amenities, features, wall color and floor design allowing the viewers to focus on the details that matter to them. Virtual tours allow viewers to explore a property independently and to enjoy and visit each room they want to see.

Virtual tours have turned out to be a powerful marketing weapon for real estate companies. These visuals increase the chances of selling the property by assisting you to easily reveal the key selling points of the project and tailoring the features according to your target audience. Unlike plain still images, virtual tours can keep the viewer glued to your website for up to an hour. As they explore each room, it’s easier for them to dream about buying and living in the house. Automated human voice technology for narrations keeps the viewer captivated during the virtual walk through. Many real estate professionals choose to take their own drone photos due to the costs and hassle of hiring a drone pilot.


Before you can begin using drones for your virtual tour, you must first complete the following steps:

All commercial drone pilots must possess a Remote Pilot in Command Certificate which can be obtained by passing the FAA Remote Pilot in Command Exam.

  1. Pay the $5 fee and register any aircraft that weighs more than 0.55lbs.
  2. Pass the $150 Small UAS Remote Pilot Exam – exam prep is available here.
  3. Pass a TSA background check
  4. File FAA Form 8710-13

Here at The Real Estate Training Institute we have created an online HD video FAA Remote Pilot Exam Prep Program with licensed real estate agent and certified drone pilot, Greg McMaster. This course is available 24/7 from any internet capable device so you can study on your own time!