Testing Yourself for Hidden Biases in an Age of Housing Inequality

This month, the National Association of Realtors released a 53-minute training video centered around addressing and overcoming hidden biases in the real estate industry. With a tenet of our mission statement being to “grow our student’s knowledge base,” we’re encouraging real estate professionals in Michigan and all over the country to learn about and assess themselves for hidden biases.

A hidden (or implicit) bias is when our brains automatically (and often unconsciously) associate stereotypes with particular groups of people - which can cause us to treat those people differently. Before you watch the training video, try taking an Implicit Bias test to learn what your unconscious attitudes are. Considering your own hidden biases is an uncomfortable process, but a necessary one. Research shows that “despite people’s best intentions and conscious awareness, some biases can persist.”

Some examples of hidden bias statements gathered from real estate agents are:

  • “I am going to show you some homes in ‘your kind of neighborhood.’ ”
  • You don’t want to live in that neighborhood, you can afford to live over here where you’ll feel more comfortable.”

If you can’t watch the entire course right now, here’s one key takeaway:

Bias Override is a way to make sure that your behavior aligns with your values. Integrating this into your real estate practice means:

  • Developing protocols for how to provide all clients with equal treatment
  • Learning how to manage your mindset so your interpersonal interactions with clients are respectful and successful
  • Creating scripts for how to navigate conversations about subjects such as schools to make sure you are conveying the same information to each client

It’s important to ensure that all of your clients can obtain the exact housing they desire. In Michigan, studies show that housing inequality is still prevalent despite 1968’s Fair Housing Act. A 2016 survey found that in Metro Detroit, black applicants were twice as likely to be denied a home loan as white applicants. In Lansing, black applicants fare even worse with a denial rate three times higher than whites.

This week, join in the fight for housing equality by setting aside some time to recognize your own hidden biases and start taking steps to change your way of thinking.

 


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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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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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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.

 


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Nebraska Real Estate Professionals Gear Up for Renewal Season

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.

How do I renew my Nebraska real estate license?

  1. Complete 18 hours of continuing education
  2. Pay a fee
    • Salesperson: $160
    • Brokers: $200
  3. Go to the Nebraska Real Estate Commission portal and renew your license by November 30th.

What continuing education is required to renew my Nebraska real estate license?

You must complete 18 credit hours of approved courses each 2-year cycle. Courses must include: 12 hours of designated subject matter.

  • Courses that are approved for designated subject areas contain an “R” in the approval number.
  • You cannot take the same course twice in a licensing cycle

When does my Nebraska real estate license continuing education have to be completed?

Continuing education must be completed by November 30th, however, if you do not complete it on time you have from December 1st to June 2020 to renew and pay a $25 late fee.

Where do I find courses to renew my Nebraska real estate license?

Real Estate Training Institute offers Nebraska approved online continuing education courses to renew your license. We offer a complete 18-hour package,  12-hour Reinstatement package (if you are currently inactive and wish to re-activate) and a 6-hour Required course package. Individual courses are also available.

Who submits my continuing education to the state of Nebraska?

Real Estate Training Institute will submit all Nebraska Real Estate Professionals continuing education.  Continuing education certificates are available immediately after completing courses.

 


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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.

 


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