Get Ready for a New Year and New Career!

How exciting! You’ve decided to take the leap and you are ready to start your new career in 2020. There are a million questions you must have. There are a few things you need to know to get started on the licensing process and start your journey to becoming a stellar real estate salesperson. The time it takes to go from nothing to fully licensed will depend largely on the state you’re trying to get licensed in. Although that may seem daunting imagine working for yourself in a flexible career where you can set your own schedule with annual earning potential of $100,000 or more. There are so many reasons to choose real estate as your career.

1. Know your Application Requirements

There are some legal requirements that all applicants must fulfill. These requirements will change slightly depending on the state you’re in, so make sure to double-check with your state’s licensing commission to make sure you know every requirement.

Generally, the legal requirements for real estate licensure are as follows:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be legally allowed to work in the United States
  • No pending criminal indictments against you
  • No criminal convictions for violent or home invasion-related offenses

The last two criteria, related to an applicant’s criminal background, are determined in most states on a case-by-case basis. A conviction doesn’t necessarily disqualify an applicant but trying to hide something in the application process almost certainly will.

2. Take a Pre-licensure Course

Nearly every state requires at least 30 hours of pre-licensure study before an applicant is eligible to sit for the state real estate licensing exam. There are two major reasons for this. First, real estate is a relatively complex business and in order to get started in the business, there’s a minimum knowledge base you’ll need to properly operate. As a real estate agent, you’ll be tasked with caring for the needs of your clients, a task that would be reckless to take on if you didn’t know the best ways to help them.

3. Pass Your State’s Real Estate Exam

Once you’ve completed your real estate pre-licensing course, you’re free to take the actual exam whenever you’d like, but we suggest you spend some time taking some practice exams. As many as you can find. Really. As MANY as you can find. Once you’ve completed your state’s pre-licensure requirements and prepped with some practice tests, it’s time to take your licensing exam. So what’s on the Real Estate License Exam?

Each state administers multiple versions of the test, and each state is different, it’s impossible to say exactly what you’ll see, but there are a few topics that real estate agents consistently see on the test.

  • Fair housing law: This topic is one that you’ll spend a good chunk of time on in your pre-licensing class, so pay attention. Knowing these facts is important if you want to adhere to state and federal guidelines on discrimination and equal housing opportunities, so the test will hammer them.
  • Basic contracts: Contracts are a critical component to using a real estate license, so the basic rules for contracts and negotiations appear regularly.
  • Real estate math: You won’t be asked to do anything more than arithmetic, but you’ll definitely be asked to do a lot of it. Understanding interest rates, percentages, and prorations will be put to the test in a number of questions.

4. Choose Your Brokerage

Once you’ve completed your pre-licensure requirements and passed your state exam, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to work. Even though you’ve demonstrated to the state that you have the knowledge required to practice real estate, you still need a brokerage to sponsor you. In order to buy and sell real estate, every real estate agent requires a broker to sponsor them. A broker is a real estate agent who has demonstrated that they not only have advanced knowledge of the industry, but that they also have a track record of success.

5. Register with the State You’re Practicing In

Once you’ve made a decision on a brokerage, the next step is to formalize your licensure with the state you’ll be operating in. It will involve submitting your personal and brokerage information and, in many states, completing forms for a basic background check. Real estate is a field that requires constant learning in order to maintain success. Find a mentor or a set of mentors who you can ask questions of, bounce ideas off of, and get advice from.

Finally, remember that this business is all about servicing our clients, not ourselves. When you accept your Realtor designation from the National Association of Realtors, you agree to always place your client’s fiduciary best interests over all others, including your own. If you are ever faced with a tough decision in a transaction, stop and ask yourself if your choices are in the best interest of your clients.

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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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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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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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