How to Find the Best Roofing Contractor That Will Listen?

Have you encountered a roofing contractor that just doesn’t seem to fit your needs? Do they not listen to what you want? You might have searched high and low for the best contractor but are still not sure which one is right for you. Everybody wants a hassle free roof and an understanding roofing contractor that will keep you safe and sound inside, leaving you with no worries. If you have been searching all day long and haven’t found any, these tips below will give you a different point of view to try and find the best roofing contractor in town! Here you go:

·  Go with Friendly Services

It doesn’t matter how long the company has been around, if the service is poor you have to stop considering them as your contractor and find another one. Friendliness and customer service is number one. Find a contractor that has a great service and track record. Search the internet for reviews. When you contact them, make sure they listen to you when you want something specific. After that, make sure they actually do it and the problems you had are solved.

·  Go with Lifetime Warranty

When it comes to your roof, you want to make sure that the company you hire offers a lifetime warranty for the roof you buy. The last thing you want is for something to happen to your new roof and get stuck paying repair costs again.

·  Go with Disaster Care

You just never know when storms or other natural disasters will strike and damage your house. When you choose a roofing contractor, make sure that they have a disaster plan in place should something happen. You may also want to ask whether or not they do consultations for storm prep. The best company is the one who listens and is patient, no matter how challenging the situation is.

Latest Technological Innovation is Changing the Luxury Property Market

An interesting transformation is taking place in the real estate market. Buyers, today, are more global and have become more tech savvy and so, properties have to be presented in a dramatic way. In the past, since there was limited use of visual media in property marketing, buyers have to physically visit the property to understand it in detail. But now, the scenario has changed completely.

What is changing?

  • Firstly, more and more buyers are searching multiple properties across various global markets. However touching every unit among them is not at all practical.
  • Secondly, the best luxury homes , which are new in the market, are in such high demand that buyers are showing interest in the units even before the project is opened to them.

What is challenging in both these situations is – the way of marketing a property so that buyerscan see an unseen unit as well as have the real feel of it.

The Scenario Then

In the past decades, the “go-to” book or the Select Register was the principal tool for property marketing. Since, businesses operated in the local market only and the concept of global purchasers have not arose, this book was quite sufficient. Later on, professional photographs and videos are being used by the brokerage firms. In the meantime, product type undergone an enormous change – condos evolved in the market instead of co-ops. With this development, property started taking the shape of global market.

The Scenario Now

Now, the property market has entered a new world where inexpensive and innovative technologies have become good sales tools. For example, single houses are now filmed through drone creating effortless movements which make even a commonplace property look elite. Virtual Reality technology is now used for capturing the interiors. Once the panoramic video is captured, it goes viral across the internet. Needless to say, the effect of using these technologies is extremely realistic and amazingly effecting in selling a property.

Cost, time and travelling can be minimized drastically. Moreover, more and more people now understand the VR marketing technique. Combining this with the young generation who has wealth and the will to purchase new property, the real estate market is to experience a blockbuster sale.

Common Appraisal Myths in the Home Buying Process

Appraisals play one of the most important roles in the home buying process and understanding its function is crucial in today’s real estate market. Appraisals are needed for any real estate transaction that involves a loan of $250,000 or more from a federal institution. Despite their importance, appraisals are still one of the most misunderstood parts of the buying process.

Some believe that the function of the appraisal is to set the home’s value or to confirm the selling price. This is simply not true. According to David S. Bunton, president of The Appraisal Foundation, the role of the appraisal is to “produce a credible opinion of value based on thorough and unbiased research and analyses that reflect the market value of a property.”

There are many myths floating around about the appraisal process, especially in regard to how appraisals are ordered. In the infographic below, The Appraisal Foundation debunks the most common myths they encounter.

2015 Supervisor and Trainee Appraiser Requirement Changes

The Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) researched and reviewed investigations across the country regarding the relationships and practices of supervisory appraisers with their trainees between 2008 and 2010. The board realized that many states had requirements for the registration and training of supervisors and trainees. The board also realized that many of the relationships and practices were lacking in the basic principles that would promote public trust. In 2011, the AQB proposed national rules for supervisory and trainee appraisers that were adopted and published in 2013. These new rules take effect January 1, 2015. States are currently busy adopting new rules and getting new laws passed in their legislature to meet these additional AQB requirements.

What is the New National Requirement?

The AQB requires states to adopt the minimum criteria if they have a supervisor or trainee classification. A new requirement for both trainee and supervisory appraisers is to take a course covering the expectations and responsibilities of appraisers in these roles. The course must be taken prior to starting any new training relationship. Although the national requirements do not require current trainee or supervisory appraisers to attend this course, many of the states are adding this level to their requirements.

Supervisory Appraisers Must be in “Good Standing”

Eligibility for becoming a supervisor includes the new term good standing, along with the existing requirement of being certified. Good standing refers to prior disciplinary proceedings in which the supervisory appraiser may have been involved. Supervisors are in good standing if they are not currently involved in a disciplinary action in any state or for the three years prior to beginning supervision. This definition has encouraged the states to require adopting rules for both trainees and supervisors to register with their boards.

Direct Supervision

Direct supervision of trainees is a large part of the new rules as well. Supervisors are responsible for the training, guidance, education, and experience logs of their trainees. There are minimum experience log categories that must be reported, including sections for the supervisor to report progress and assistance. Each state will create their own log under the new rules, along with how often the log must be signed, who should retain the log, and how the log will be completed. One of the major areas of concern to supervisory appraisers is accompanying trainees on inspections. The AQB provides the supervisor with this responsibility of personally inspecting the properties with the trainee until the trainee is competent under the Competency Rule of USPAP. However, some states may adopt rules requiring a minimum number of inspections or require the supervisor to inspect all properties with a trainee. An appraiser’s clients will also be a determining factor regarding when trainees are allowed to complete the inspection on their own. HUD and VA already have limitations on trainee assistance.

Panama Real Estate: An Ideal Property Investment for Fun-Loving Retirees

The real estate business is one of the most profitable enterprises for many. There are several investors that are spending some serious amounts of money and time to make the most of the real estate business. One of the hottest places of interest is Panama real estate and investors are swarming into the land to make the most out of their investments. In fact there are several people that do not actually want to make an investment in real estate of the country and are here solely to make a residential establishment in Panama. A look at the Coronado Panama beach real estate will suggest the same.

The options available in the real estate of the country do not seem to cease just yet. While the conventional properties have almost disappeared at the speed of light-chased by light, there is now a full spectrum of pithy properties for sale.

Beachside properties, mountain-top condos and the like are soaring in popularity and there is not much that people can ask for. There are luxurious villas that promise the best in safety and aesthetics.

Panama is today one of the most preferred holiday locales and retirement destinations and there are several people that are flowing in to the land. While this was limited only to people from North America in the past, Panama real estate has lately made meteoric rise in the good books of investors from North America and Europe.

One class that Panama particularly lures is the retired. There are specific incentive programs that are designed just for those who are retired. Besides tourists, Panama has come to become one of the hottest destinations for retired people who have had their fill in respective work lives and want to make their next stage in life full of fun and merry.

In Panama, retirees often find the solace that they always pined for during their work lives. This is in fact one of the best qualities that the country has to lure investors. Buying Coronado panama beach real estate properties is pretty similar to buying properties in several other places like the United States and Canada.

There are laws that protect foreign investors. These laws ensure that the rights of property buyers and investors are not violated in Panama. For retirees, there is also the facility to buy insurance for themselves and their properties. Investors also get the luxury to enjoy all usual rights of ownership.

While there might be several things that attract people to invest in Panama, nothing attracts more than the sea. There are several people that choose settling in Panama merely for the beauty of the sea. Many tourists adhere to the opinion that the sea in Panama is no ordinary sea. There is surreal beauty to be savored from the beaches in Panama. The beaches are as pristine as they get and there is nothing that beats the view of the beaches in Panama. In fact, beaches are one of the most precious offerings of Panama real estate and there are several many things that can be done to take everything to the next level.

Top Ten Traits of a Real Estate Agent

The world of residential real estate has many different players, including appraisers, home inspectors, property managers, contractors, bankers, mortgage loan officers, and government agencies, as well as prospective buyers and sellers. But, the workhorses of the typical real estate transaction are the people that coordinate the process—the real estate agents and brokers.

A good real estate agent is similar in nature to a conductor of a symphony, coordinating the different players to make a successful transaction a reality. At different points in the process, the real estate agent is a salesperson, a buyer’s advocate, an analyst, a business manager, a consultant, a negotiator, and a marketer, just to name a few. We have found there are a number of qualities and traits that successful real estate professionals share.

Top 10 traits of a real estate agent. Kaplan Real Estate Education10. Problem solver mindset. Do you enjoy coming up with creative solutions to problems or issues? Many successful real estate agents know how to properly showcase a house to make it more marketable and develop creative MLS listings to attract the right buyers.

9. Self-motivated entrepreneur. Having a desire to control your own professional destiny and be your own boss is a trait shared by top real estate professionals. To be successful in real estate requires a high degree of self-motivation, drive, and smart decision making.

8. Honesty and integrity. Your professional reputation is crucial to a long and successful career in real estate. Becoming a member of the National Association of REALTORS® is one way to show you practice high ethical standards. To become a member, you must pledge to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

7. 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, putting in the right amount of time, and doing whatever is necessary to close the deal.

6. Interest in houses and architecture. Having a true interest in houses and architecture can give you an advantage over other brokers and salespersons. If your knowledge and interest level is apparent in conversations, your clients will see that you care about the industry you’re in.

5. Engaging personality. 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, have confidence in your abilities, and get a sense of fulfillment by serving others.

4. Attention to detail. Paying close attention to the details is imperative for your real estate career. A complete real estate agent is attentive to the unique needs of their individual clients. If you are organized, follow up with leads, communicate well, and pay attention to the needs of your clients, you will close more deals.

3. Understand the local housing market. A top producing real estate agent appreciates and utilizes the nuances that make a specific community’s housing market and pricing strategy unique. 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.

2. Build a network of connections. Successful real estate agents have a vast network of contacts within the market they serve. This list of connections should include other real estate agents and brokers, potential buyers and sellers, and all the other players in the real estate industry, such as appraisers, home inspectors, and mortgage loan officers.

1. Knowledge is power. Staying up-to-date on the latest topics in real estate and in the local market will allow you to service clients more effectively. Continuing education and professional development are doors to opportunity that you can utilize to expand your business options and stay at the forefront of the real estate field.

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. Real estate is no different. If 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.

Schools and Their Effect on Home Prices

Schools and Their Effect on Home PricesThe editorial piece below was originally published in the May issue of The St. Paul Voice. It was written by Toby Schifsky, National Director of Kaplan Real Estate Education. It detailed his response as a real estate professional, to the questions he’s often asked whenever school district improvements are up for vote.

Conventional wisdom tells us there are many factors people use when determining where to buy a home. What is the number one factor for people selecting a new home? You don’t have to be a genius to figure this one out… location, location, location. But, what do I consistently see as the second greatest location factor for home buyers? Schools. The school district or even a specific school within a district can drive demand for a particular area. Ask any real estate agent you know and they will confirm that having strong schools and an overall strong district can affect home prices by as much as 10 percent over a neighboring district.

Don’t have kids of school age? Buying a home in a good school district is still smart. When the schools are desirable, homes tend to hold their value better in down markets and appreciate more in good times. A 1 percent, 2 percent, or even 3 percent difference in a home’s value can be thousands of dollars. I educate people all the time, “You need to look at supporting and maintaining a good school district much like you would the maintenance of the roof or siding on your house.” If not, both will significantly affect the value of your home.

Whenever a school levy comes up for a vote I am asked, “What do you think of the levy for school improvements?” My answer is “It seems like a pretty small investment to protect the value of my home.”

Starting a Home Inspection Business, What is the Financial Opportunity?

As with any financial opportunity, there is a degree of risk, so it is best to consider your options within the home inspection profession as well as research your local market. You then want to create a home inspection business plan. By considering the business options below, you will begin to create a road map for success.

Starting a home inspection businessItems to Consider When Starting a Home Inspection Business:

1. Will you be full time, part time, or use home inspection as an ancillary add on service to you existing profession? It is projected that nationally approximately 80% of the home inspectors are full time and 20% are part time or using it is an add on service.

2. Will you be working for someone else at a multi-inspection firm or working for yourself? Most home inspectors, 60 to 70%, are independent business persons. Self-employment is appealing to many people and can be rewarding, but it also involves more work, particularly if you are just entering the profession.

3. Will you be starting your home inspection business from scratch, buying someone else’s business or a franchise? Either way there will be start-up costs in the range of 15% of your first year projected sales.

4. How will the business be structured? Consulting an accountant, attorney, and bank will help you decide whether to be a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietor.

5. Will you provide other related services? For example, many home inspectors are also termite or mold inspectors. Inspectors with talent and ambition can expand their business services to include commercial inspections and expert witness testimony.  Radon, lead-based paint, septic systems, and indoor air testing are just a few of the services that home inspectors can provide for additional fees.

6. Will you need anyone to support your business? A partner, employee, a spouse, a son or daughter to work alongside of you in building this dream. Regardless, you will need the full support and confidence of your family before entering into this exciting career change and opportunity.

 

Home Inspector Arrival Tips

Increase Your Professionalism From the Moment You Arrive at a Home Inspection

Boost your home inspection referrals and client satisfaction by following these simple guidelines. Get tips on arriving to your home inspection from Kaplan’s instructor, who has been a home inspector for over 20 years. Learn how to show your customers you value their time from the moment you arrive to the time you finish.

 Video Transcript

To begin an inspection, it’s absolutely critical that you arrive on time. As a matter of fact, I like to arrive about 15 minutes early. Why? I want to show the customer that I value their time. That means if they’re waiting for me, I’m going to be concerned about how they’re going to begin to feel about me. So, I’m here early. The second thing that’s really critical about a home inspection: to look professional is to bring equipment that’s clean. Don’t bring a ladder that you’ve been painting your bedroom with last night. Bring a clean ladder. Bring clean drop cloths. Bring clean booties. Keep in mind that these people haven’t bought the house yet, but they’re most likely going to. You want to show respect to their new home. You don’t want to be walking around their carpet, leaving things behind.

Make sure, again, that as you come up to the door and knock on the door, give people time to come to the door. You’d be amazed. They could be in all other parts of the house, and it’s going to take them a while to get there. What you don’t want to do is to come in and surprise somebody. Boy, that’s embarrassing. It can be, again, very, very bad for the customer relationship issue. What I like to do when I get here early is I begin to prepare my report. I begin to fill out things that are kind of general comments, the style of the home, the type of the shingles, and things like that prior to the customer getting here. The other thing that I would encourage you to do as we go throughout the house for the entire inspection is: digital photography is really in the marketplace now. It gives you a little bit of an edge, being able to explain to people what you’re looking at, what you’re seeing, and what’s good and what’s bad.

Remember that you can overuse digital photography. So, don’t make it a showmanship attitude. Make it a, “I need to show somebody something.” Communication is the number one key to the success of a home inspection. If I can both in writing and verbally explain myself well to my customers, I just won the battle, and I haven’t even started the inspection yet. The more you can prepare before the customer comes here, the less you’re going to be inconveniencing them. That’s just good business, and I encourage you to do that. I would also encourage you to, one more time, just check their name so that when you do get out and greet them, and they should be here in a few moments, you’ll be able to call them by their first name. Boy, that’s just great marketing.

The other thing that you want to pay attention to after you’ve set the ladder up on the house is to be concerned about damaging the home. If you looked up here, these are brand new gutters. I wouldn’t even consider putting my ladder up on those gutters. So, I chose to lean it against the stucco. I’ll work around some of the products that the seller has, so that I don’t damage those products. So, prepare yourself. Then, when they arrive… Oh, by the way. Here they come now.

RE/MAX Real Estate Agency Flower Mound TX: Realtors Needed More Than Ever

http://www.newflowermoundhomes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/RE-MAX-Real-Estate-Agency-Flower-Mound-TX-285x300.jpgThe internet and online shopping have made the lives of American consumers a lot easier in many ways.  Unfortunately, some types of businesses, like brick-and-mortar bookstores, travel agencies and video rental stores, have suffered.  It was even thought that realtors would be made obsolete by websites that allow home shoppers to find their own homes.  But the truth is, a RE/MAX real estate agency in Flower Mound TX is more important now than before the internet explosion.

Since the housing bubble burst in the late 2000s, the number of realtors overall has declined; but some think that there may have been too many to begin with.  When everyone and anyone could purchase a home with little or bad credit, too many people jumped into the real estate business to make a quick killing.  When regulations tightened and sales dried up, the people who didn’t want to work hard left the business.  Regardless of the fact that the number of realtors has stayed lower than peak numbers from 2005 to 2009, the Natural Association of Realtors says that more home buyers and sellers than ever get the help of a realtor for all or part of their home search, purchase or sale.

If you’re looking for a home in North Texas and you contact a RE/MAX real estate agency in Flower Mound TX for help, you’ve likely already done some searching on your own online.  And while the internet is a great tool for narrowing down a search – you can see inside hundreds of homes from the comfort of your couch – the fact is that nothing can replace the experience and knowledge of a great realtor when it comes to viewing homes in person, deciding on a home, making an offer and completing the closing paperwork.  And while you will have to pay a realtor’s commission for his services, he will earn every penny.  It’s true that you can find help or answers to questions online for free – but remember, when something is free, you get what you pay for.

The realtors who survived the housing crash know that the new market is more complicated than ever, which makes it doubly important to retain the services of a RE/MAX real estate agency in Flower Mound TX.  Tighter lending standards as well as the prevalence of foreclosures and short sales, which have their own particular rules, have made buying a home without help difficult.  Getting financing and negotiating atypical contracts requires the experience and input of a realtor who will look out for your best interests.

Is Home Inspection the Right Profession for You?

Entering a new profession, any profession, is a difficult decision. Home inspection is no different. You should clearly understand not only what the new profession will be like, but the best path to success for you in that profession. Below are a few points that will give you a representation of the home inspection industry.

Is being a home inspector the right choice for a career?Historically, home inspectors are people that have had previous careers. This has been a transition industry filled with men and women that are on their second, third, and sometimes fourth career.

Over 75% of all home inspectors are between the ages of 42 to 65. This should not discourage the younger generations. With the internet, computers, smartphones and the like, younger men and women are in the process of changing the home inspection industry for the better.  The youth are finding this is one of the last industries where you can run your own business with few regulations and overhead while generating a respectable income.

Everybody is different.  Some people enjoy climbing a ladder to inspect a roof, and are willing to get down on their knees and inspect a crawl space. Other people enjoy record keeping, reports, marketing, and relationship building. All of these are integral parts of the home inspection business. Think about what you enjoy, what you are willing to do, and what you are good at.

Are you the kind of person who doesn’t want to be tied to a desk all day?

Are you interested in construction and how things work?

Are you good at identifying problems and defects?

If so, then home inspection might be a great career option for you.

Centro Pune – Returns Of Devoting Trendy Real Estate

Definite estate tasks in Pune and correspondingly a couple of various other municipalities in India are considered as the best economic investment option presently in the Indian market. The surge in real estate market has dropped afterwards depreciation of rupee versus dollar. Centro Lushlife Developers Real Estate is the one investment from which you can get a firm income, and at the same time relish a steady appreciation. If you plan to realistically invest in the real estate market, please ensure that you have a timeframe of a few years. CENTRO HANDEWADI PUNE It’s still cheap compared to Bangalore !! High incomes of IT employees, a bull run on the stock market and foreign repatriations have made the Indian real estate market a little volatile at this point. Pune Centro Rates Real estate; whether land or houses will always sell at a premium. For most people who live in 3 storeyed apartments that are over 20 years old, builders have offered schemes where current apartment owners sell the land and building to the builder, in return for a bigger apartment. Builders get prime land in the city and the apartment owners get an upgraded apartment that has a lot more market value. http://www.firstpuneproperties.com/centro-handewadi-pune-by-lushlife-developers-review/ The real estate market in Lonavala is growing by bounds and leaps. Be it infrastructural development by the government or the construction of villas, apartments, bungalows, etc., the real estate market in Lonavala is in heading north. This is one of the prime reasons for the Lonavala real estate boom that many people talk about these days. Lonavala has excellent road and rail connectivity and it takes around 3 hours to reach there from Mumbai. It also has a major railway station and there are a number of trains that stop there. Easy accessibility has also led to the widespread interest in the Lonavala real estate. Lonavala offers serene and peaceful environment to people. Many retirees have made Lonavala their second home as they want to spend quality time while being closer to nature. Experts working in the Mumbai and Pune Lushlife Developers Centro too are very keen to buy property in Lonavala as the venture promises great returns in the imminent. If you are seeing for properties in Lonavala for sale, you will be glad to know that over the years, many prominent builders have come up with exciting new projects. Today, people have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to buying property for investment purposes as builders offer a wide range of apartments, bungalows, villas to stockholders. Most leading developers are of the view that in the coming years, Centro Pre Launch Lonavala will become a major city with infrastructure that will be second to none. People who make wise venture conclusions today will become good returns in the times to come. It will be one of those rare places that offer access to all the modern amenities while being serene and peaceful at the same spell. The eminence of Centro Pune life in Lonavala will petition to people not only from Maharashtra, but then again from other states as glowing.

Four Simple and Affordable Lead Generation Ideas for Contractors

As a self-employed contractor, you have to be able to balance the work you’re doing today with the work you’ll be doing tomorrow. Leads are the lifeline of your business. If you are like most contractors, you didn’t get into the trade because you loved sales and marketing. So finding, nurturing, and converting leads may be something you struggle with. We’ve assembled this quick list of strategies you can use to attract new and better clients, and make your marketing dollars stretch further.

1. Become an Expert Grow Your Contractor Business with New and Better Leads

Many contractors market themselves as a jack of all trades. After all, the guy who does “everything” well never limits his opportunities, right? But if you need open heart surgery, would you rather have it performed by a world-renowned heart surgeon or a guy who dabbles in heart procedures, nose jobs, and knee replacements? The answer is simple…people want to work with experts.

You don’t need to limit yourself to performing one type of job. But there’s a lot of value in being known for something. In a business that relies so heavily on word of mouth, it’s important that you know what customers are saying about you. If you become known as the go-to in your market for complete kitchen remodels or awe-inspiring deck projects, you will be the first choice of anyone looking to have that type of work done on their own home. And you will likely receive tons of referral traffic for unrelated jobs too.

2. Search Engine Optimization

Google is the new yellow pages. When people are looking for local goods or services, they’re doing it online. The web gives customers the opportunity to compare and contrast companies and see examples of their work. That means you need to make sure when people in your community search for the contracting service you provide, you’re on the first page of search results, and preferably near the top.

There are companies that will help you do this with pay-per-click advertising, but that’s expensive and isn’t sustainable. Plus, they’re also helping your competitors. Focus instead on optimizing your website for organic search (unpaid search results). Use the expertise we defined above to write articles about things your audience cares about. Topics such as:

– The 4 Key Differences Between Granite and Concrete Countertops

– 5 Energy Saving Tips that Could Save You $250 a Year

– Build or Remodel? A Simple Checklist to Help You Decide

People are searching for this type of information every day. Wouldn’t it be great if they were getting it from you?

3. Active Social Media Presence

Social media is a tool you may be overlooking or misusing. It presents a real opportunity for you to market your contracting business at little or no cost. Many people create a business page on Facebook, but then soon abandon it because they “don’t have anything to say.” The second worst thing you can do on Facebook is overwhelm your audience with blatant self-promotion. But the worst thing you can do is nothing at all.

Social media works best when used regularly to deliver valuable content that engages your customers. If you begin optimizing your website with articles, as detailed above, you will have a treasure trove of content to share. You can also use social media to hand out smaller nuggets of information, like a weekly do-it-yourself tip. There’s a limitless supply of valuable information you can share to keep people engaged with your page. Social media is a tool to help you stay in front of clients and demonstrate your expertise when they don’t necessarily need your services. When they do, you’ll be top of mind and likely to get the call.

4. Easy to Refer

The job is complete. The customer is satisfied beyond their wildest expectations. You’re certain that you have a new fan who would be happy to refer you to anyone and everyone they meet. But how can you be sure of it? You need to empower your satisfied customers to be advocates of your brand. Leave them with a dozen business cards or flyers for discounted services. Better yet, offer them cash or credit on future jobs for referrals that turn into clients. Take steps to turn your biggest fans into your most active advocates.

Marketing, sales, and lead generation may not come easy to you as a contractor, and that’s alright. The more you actively commit yourself to it, the more comfortable it will become. Implementing the tips above will help you create a funnel of new leads coming in so you can focus your attention on what you do best.

Just What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?

A Day in the Life of a Real Estate Salesperson

A real estate agent, as defined by Cambridge Dictionary, is a person whose business is to arrange the selling or renting of houses, land, offices, or buildings for their owners. While that is a technically accurate definition of a real estate agent, it doesn’t give an accurate description of what a real estate agent does on a day-to-day basis. Each day is unique and different for a real estate agent; while this can be an appealing aspect of the real estate profession, it can also offer unique challenges or opportunities, depending on the agent’s skill set. So, just what does a real estate agent do in a typical day?

Just What Does A Real Estate Agent Do? Kaplan Real Estate EducationManaging Your Real Estate Business

There are a number of administrative tasks that are at the core of a well-run real estate business. A good real estate agent:

  • Keeps up with local and regional market activity and industry news
  • Researches active, pending, and sold listings and reviews the daily MLS Hot Sheet or Activity Report
  • Completes, submits, and files paperwork, such as real estate documents, agreements, and records with the proper state agencies
  • Plans and coordinates appointments, open houses, showings, and meetings with clients and other real estate agents
  • Develops marketing plans for listings and creates fliers, newsletters, and other promotional collateral
  • Responds to incoming emails and phone calls
  • Update websites, social media profiles, and blogs

Many successful real estate agents have an assistant or office manager to assist with the day-to-day activities, allowing the salesperson or broker to focus on more direct revenue-generating activities.

You’re Not Just Selling Homes, You’re Selling Yourself

Attracting clients is crucial to a real estate agent’s success. Below are some tips to attracting new clients:

  • Market yourself. Competition is fierce. You need to develop your niche in the local real estate market and be known as the expert in the type of work you enjoy. This will help differentiate yourself through effective marketing. Websites, postcards, television and radio spots, billboards, fliers, and blogs are all channels that can be utilized in effective real estate agent marketing plans.
  • Lead generation. Generate leads through networking and relationship development. This starts with people you know, such as friends, family, business associates, and so on. There is little that is more valuable to a real estate agent then a thriving database of leads.
  • Everyone is a prospect. Basically, everyone you meet is a prospective client, because everyone rents, buys, or sells a home at some point. A real estate agent’s day is often consumed by cultivating leads, as well as meeting and following up with potential buyers and sellers.

Working with Sellers

  • Meet with and understand the needs of sellers with new listings.
  • Demonstrate your market knowledge, marketing abilities, and negotiation skills.
  • Research the current local market activity and comparable properties to establish an asking price.
  • List the property with relevant listing services.
  • Take digital photos of the property, inside and out, to prepare a listing presentation and advertising collateral.
  • Stage the home properly so it shows well and conduct open houses.

Working with Buyers

  • Meet with, interview, understand, and qualify prospective buyers.
  • Research the listing services for potential properties that fit the needs of your clients.
  • Plan property showings for buyers and set up appointments that fit your client’s schedule.
  • Show selected properties to buyers and communicate any details of the property you learned during your research or while talking to other agents.
  • Demonstrate negotiation skills, making offers of purchase on real estate.

Networking with Peers

Real estate agents typically work in an office with other agents and brokers and have many opportunities to discuss new listings, get updates on listings, and discuss buyer’s and seller’s needs. Another option that agents utilize to narrow down a search for a buyer or to perform research on the competition for sellers is the MLS tour. This allows agents and brokers to quickly gather first-hand knowledge on a number of available properties in the local market.

Developing Your Skills

Although continuing education is a requirement to maintain a real estate license, it is also an opportunity to develop the skills that will keep an agent at the top of their game or open a door to new real estate opportunities within the regional or local market. Continual development is crucial to long-term success of real estate agents and brokers. Continuing education not only widens their scope of expertise, but it also improves their proficiency, knowledge, and marketability as a real estate professional.

Minnesota DLI Announces the 2012 IRC Code Adoption

It’s official—the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) announced that the 2012 International Residential Code will take effect January 2015.

Homes that start construction (permits pulled) before January 2015 will be governed by current code.  Homes with permits pulled in 2015 will be governed by the newly adopted codes.

Proposed changes of particular interest to building contractors include residential fire suppression, window fall protection, replacement windows, thermal envelope requirements, and more.

Code changes will impact:

  • MN Building Code
  • MN Residential Code
  • MN Mechanical and Fuel Gas Code
  • MN Commercial and Residential Energy Codes
  • MN Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings Code
  • MN Accessibility Code
  • MN Fire Code

The Kaplan team is currently developing training materials to address the new codes. As always, we will professionally and accurately deliver the information you need to keep your business running smoothly and profitably.

For more information, see the DLI Construction Codes and Licensing Division’s Summer Newsletter.

Stay tuned for additional Kaplan communications as books and training courses become available.

EPA Lead-Safe Certification Refresher Requirement

Attention Certified Renovators —Your EPA Lead-Safe Certification Expires Every 5 Years!

Are you approaching 5 years since you become EPA lead-safe certified? If so, you will need a 4-hour refresher course to remain a certified renovator. Once your recertification course is completed, your certified renovator status is active for 5 years from the course completion date.

If you are close to your fifth year of certification, don’t delay taking the certified refresher course. If you do not complete the 4-hour refresher course before your certification expires, you will need to retake the 8-hour initial certification course.  For more information on lead-safe certification, visit the EPA website.

More on the Lead-RRP Rule

The EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP Rule) requires firms that perform renovation, repair, or painting projects become lead-safe certified.  According to the EPA 2008 RRP Rule, anyone who disturbs greater than 20 square feet of lead-based paint on an exterior wall, or disturbs an area greater than 6 square feet of interior paint per room, needs to be trained in lead-safe work practices.

This rule applies to anyone who is paid to perform work that disturbs paint in housing and child care facilities built before 1978, such as general contractors, residential rental property owners and managers, and special trade contractors, including:

– Painters           – Carpenters         – Electricians
– Plumbers        – Roofers               – HVAC Technicians

To learn more about the EPA’s RRP Rule, visit the EPA website.

Contractor Alert: Regulator News for Certified Renovators

On April 8, 2015, the Administer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed the final rule to extend the certifications for certain individual renovators. This rule pertains to individual renovators who received certification prior to March 31, 2011.

Under the final rule:

  • Individual renovators who received certification on or before March 31, 2010, now have until March 31, 2016, to get recertified.
  • Individual renovators who received certification between April 1, 2010, and March 31, 2011, will have one year added to their 5-year certification.
  • Subsequent certifications for renovators receiving the extension will be five years.

Please note that these extensions only apply to individual renovators. It does not apply to firm certifications. Further, these extensions only apply to certifications that fall under the EPA’s Lead-RRP Program; it does not apply to renovators under authorized state programs.

Why the Extension?

In January 2015, the EPA proposed a rule that could change the refresher training requirements for recertification. One amendment under consideration in the rule is to remove the hands-on required module of the refresher training.  If removed, renovators could take the refresher course online, without having to travel to a classroom. If the agency does issue a final rule to eliminate this hands-on requirement, it may not happen until the end of 2015. The EPA is extending the deadline for the renovators whose certifications would have otherwise expired before the rule could be finalized.

To learn more about this extension, see the Lead-based Paint Programs; Extension of Renovator Certifications rule document. For more information on the EPA Lead-RRP Program, visit www.epa.gov/lead.

Five Skills Expected From All Home Inspectors

When thinking about becoming a home inspector, you should consider the industry expectations. The days of the contractor walk-thru inspection are over. In all communities, large and small, the expectation of the home inspector’s ability is higher than ever. When you hang a sign calling yourself a home inspector, you better be ready to meet a high standard of performance.

Initially, real estate salespeople were reluctant to embrace the home inspector. As the industry grew, agents began to accept the home inspector, but demanded professionals. InThese are the five skills real estate agents and homeowners expect all home inspectors to have today’s real estate industry, agents are okay with the home inspector finding issues during the transaction, as long as they are actual problems. Home inspectors essentially need to perform at the same level as a licensed contractor. They need to be experts in all facets of the home, from foundations to roof shingles, from furnaces to electrical panels, from wet basements to mold. In other words, today’s home inspector must be highly trained in order to succeed. If you want to become a home inspector, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you know all the systems and components of a home?

As an instructor of 26 years, I have never met a student who, at the end of their inspection training, wasn’t completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Most students, regardless of their background, are shocked by the amount of technical knowledge they still needed to learn.

 

2. Do you know how to identify all the potential problems of each system and component?

A home inspector not only needs to know each and every part of the building, but they need a unique skill set that allows them to identify each problem within these systems and components. It’s one thing to know what a furnace is, but another thing to be able to tell someone why it’s unsafe and needs to be replaced.

 

3. Do you know old homes as well as new homes?

Old homes perform differently than new homes. A competent inspector must be able to recognize that. For example, moisture intrusion in an old home is bad and needs to be stopped, but moisture intrusion in a new home, with much lower drying potential, could be devastating and should be a high concern for decay and mold.

 

4. Are you capable of explaining what you know to a customer?

Successful home inspectors need to be able to communicate their findings, both verbally and in a high quality physical document. Often, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Great communication is one of the major keys to controlling liability and providing customer satisfaction.

 

5. Do you have any designations that support your ability to inspect a home?

Unless your customer is a repeat customer, your client will likely not know you. As customers shop for a qualified inspector, they will be looking for industry designations that make you stand out from your competition.

 

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may not be prepared to become a home inspector yet.

Home inspection is not rocket science, and it can be learned and in a reasonably short period of time. However, all future home inspectors will need training. You should look for an industry-recognized school that offers classroom instruction, a hands-on training lab, and multiple live field inspections. With the right training, you’ll be prepared to answer “YES” to all five of these questions.

Are You Breaking the Law? What you Can and Can’t Say about Mortgage Products in Advertising

As a professional in real estate, whether you’re a licensee, appraiser, or even a contractor, you wear a lot of hats. Some days you’re in the business of helping people, other days you’re a negotiator, and some days, you’re a quasi-loan officer. For some in our field, you’ve probably lost count of how many estimates of closing costs you’ve gone over with your clients or how many times you’ve run a payment, let alone quoted an interest rate. I’m here to tell you that some of these hats need to be permanently put on a shelf, regardless of your profession, as they could get you in trouble. What real estate professionals can and can't say about mortgage products in advertising

The Law

In July 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued the Mortgage Acts and Practices Rule—Advertising Final Rule (aka, MAP). Its purpose is to prevent unfair or deceptive acts in the mortgage industry by prohibiting misrepresentation in ads. You’re probably asking what this has to do with you if you’re not a lender. Well, it does apply to you because it directly relates to how you advertise and communicate with the public.

MAP regulates commercial communications relating to mortgage credit products. Lenders share information daily about rates, programs, terms, and anything related to financing. Realtors, licensees, and even contractors are also giving information to their clients with relation to financing.

The Key Terms

A commercial communication is “any written or oral statement, illustration, or depiction, whether in English or any other language, that is designed to effect a sale or create interest in purchasing goods or service….” The definition goes on to include all written communication, such as newspaper, print, signs, posters, letters, scripts, internet, cellular network, or any other medium. Promotional materials and web pages are included under this definition.

A mortgage credit product is any form of credit that is secured by real property or a dwelling and that is offered or extended to a consumer primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. Commercial property wouldn’t apply here.

Essentially, if you discuss, verbally or in any other media, anything that has to do with an interest rate, loan term, pre-payment penalty, loan fees, or any other requirements for the loan, you could be found misrepresenting or omitting material facts that are critical to the decisions consumers make under MAP.

You can give consumers a list of what lenders will need for a loan application or information about the loan process, but if you give any financial details, you’re required to comply with MAP disclosure rules, just as mortgage lenders do.

When it comes to advertising, you’re allowed to use a disclaimer, but please avoid “fine print.” If you use a disclaimer, it must be readily apparent to the consumer, be separate from the other text in the communication, and clearly convey the qualifying language of the information. Remember, the term apparent to the consumer is definitely up for interpretation, so going overboard to cover all bases is your best bet!

An additional key piece…you must keep records of all commercial advertisements for at least 24 months from when it was initially “pushed out” for all to see.

The Sting

As with all rules, this one comes with a pretty big penalty. Both the FTC and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can enforce actions and seek civil penalties to the tune of $16,000 per day per violation.

The Consensus

Now that you’re under the watchful eye of the government, just like mortgage lenders, servicers, and any party to financing, it may make sense to keep the financial talk or “print” to those lenders you trust.

Why Hire a Certified Home Inspector?

The investments of your certified home inspector would be the solid education background in construction, the education attended, experience acquired and membership under known professional bodies in home based inspection industry. The formal training is what builds an educated and competent inspector. These competent inspectors have gained their certification by passing the required exams within the National Home Inspector Examination.
When real estate buyers imagine getting a house for investment, getting the qualified inspector is essential. The report is the basis for having the property. Due diligence should be exercised by potential customers in selecting the proper Cleveland. Sometimes, the cost tells the trusted ones. There are several inspectors good in marketing their helps but aren’t competent.
Real estate buyers are assured that the inspector knows how to proceed. Basic principles and detailed method of inspecting are done like evaluating gas lines, inspecting the building blocks and structures of attic, walls, roofs, doors, basement, air condition, electrical, and plumbing systems. The gas and hot water heaters can also be being checked. A professional inspector knows the several systems through the foundation to the ridge vents.

A professional it’s possible to easily identify various problems inside the reports. The fees usually depend upon how highly-skilled your home inspector is. Ideally, the seasoned one charges much more than the brand new inspector in the market. Many inspectors can give the written report immediately. Most credible inspector relay the assessment to the clients which is easy comprehend. Kinds of the report could possibly be written or computer generated report. Communication in orderly manner is but one problem dealt by some house buyers. An inspector must possess an effective written and communication skills that’s crucial in working with audience. The statements with the right inspector is very important simply because this may be the basis to make a decision.
Training will be the number one tool in home inspection. Inspector with certification has attended the mandatory trained in order to equip oneself with all the necessary knowledge and skills in the area of home inspection. All the states require every candidates to accomplish an elegant training from schools and pass their state examination. Test measures the competence with the candidate. Real estate buyers are certain that the one they hired gets the right skills and knowledge. Trainings are obtained from approved schools under National Association of Home Inspectors, National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and the American Society of Home Inspectors.
An experienced inspector is owned by a well-respected association like American Society of Home Inspectors. Affiliated with this famous organization has continuous education. The info are always updated just like the latest building methods as well as the advance studies. Members are also required to complete the membership requirements like finishing of training and passing the examination.
Home inspection is a valuable part of home-buying process. The report can greatly influence the decision of the house buyers. It is the job of your home buyers to elucidate if something is unclear about the reports provided. Generally, good certified examiner relays a great explanation to each and every question with the client.

How to Inspect an Outdoor Home Deck

Learn How to Inspect Outdoor Home Decks with Confidence

Some of the most news-advertised problems with homes are related to collapsing outdoor home decks. Get tips on how to inspect an outdoor home deck with confidence from one of Kaplan’s Home Inspection Training instructors. Learn how to test an outdoor deck to ensure it is structurally stable, see how to inspect the safety rails, and discover the signs that will let you know if a deck was installed correctly.

Video Transcript
You know, as we come around the corner, we are meeting up with a deck. Let me talk a little bit about decks because there’s a concept here that I want you to get a hold of. It’s going to apply to other types of the house. I think great home inspectors can almost see through walls. What I mean through that is, based on how things are built, they are either going to be comfortable or uncomfortable with something they cannot see.
As I come around here, I see this deck footing. Looks pretty professionally done. I need to be comfortable that that was done right. Because of the extension of footing and the tube around it and the metal bracket fastening the post to the footing, it would tell me that the probability is high that that’s done right. I’m comfortable and I’m not going to say anything. When you compound that with the fact that as you look up, the ways that the beams sit on the posts is all very professionally done. The bolts on the beams where they put two boards together to create a beam is all professionally done. What does that do for me as the home inspector? It makes me more comfortable with the deck. That doesn’t mean I don’t keep looking at the deck, but I’m going to look less hard cause I need to find problems.
I’m coming over here and I look up and I see it looks like maybe the homeowner installed the light fixture. Why do I say the homeowner? Because you can see the wiring stapled on the outside of the siding. You can’t do that. You’re not supposed to do that. That’s called unprotected wiring and it’s subject to damage and we certainly want to point that out in our report. As I continue to flow across the back of the house, I am looking at more of the deck and as I see it over there, I can see lateral bracing nailed to the bottom of the deck boards. That’s excellent. What that stops the deck from doing is swaying from side to side. That again speaks to the professionalism of the installation of the deck. A lot of times, you’re going to get up there and kind of go out there on the outside corners of that deck and rock a little on the deck. If it rocks, it’s not structurally stable. One of the ways you can recommend people to correct that is by putting on some good lateral bracing.
The deck is looking good. The siding looks really good. If I could point this out, which I think will explain a lot of things. Even in the basement of the home, we’re always concerned about having a footing and when someone relocates a post, or sets a post on a basement floor, or sets a post on a patio slab, or sidewalk, those slabs are only four inches deep. There is no footing for that. We would define those as unsupported posts. But here, as I might see in a basement floor, they put a post down on the patio, but before they did, if you’ll notice the patching, they cut a whole in the cement, dug the footing out, and poured the footing up flush with the patio. Good install and that’s exactly what we want to look for. Had I not seen that patching, I would have said structural problem, unsupported posts. Just didn’t apply here, but nonetheless I want you to get the concept of that cause, particularly, in basements, you’re going to run across unsupported posts all the time where they’ve relocated them. We’re going to take a look at the deck from the top side. As your coming up the stairs, be sure and just kind of shake things around. They shouldn’t be moving. A deck is supposed to be built just as strong as the main level of your home.
Notice here that this is not your handrail. In the old days, we used to leave this flat 2 x 6, or 2 x 4 as a handrail. Doesn’t make an acceptable handrail any longer, so they’ve installed this nice grip-able handrail which is exactly what they should have done. As we go here, remember that lateral bracing that we had. Just verify, look at how it doesn’t move because of that lateral bracing. Bump into the guardrail, make sure it is nice and secure. Remember that kids are going to be up here, adults having fun, they can bang into this, make sure that they’re not going to go over the top. Some of our most advertised types of problems that happen to houses when it hits the news is decks that have problems, collapsing or something like that.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself before Starting a Home Inspection Career

As an instructor for the past 26 years, I have seen many students that want to become home inspectors…but in the end, few do. A career change can be exhilarating, but there is degree of risk that goes along with this rush of adrenaline. Everyone knows something about houses; so, home inspection seems like a natural path to follow, particularly if you have been a real estate agent, appraiser or contractor. A prudent professional will begin assessing the pros and cons prior to jumping off the fence. Training to be a home inspector is exciting; however, succeeding as a small business person may be another thing. Before investing your time and money, you should answer the following 3 questions.

1. Do I understand what an inspection involves?

A home inspector’s task is to represent the voice of the house. A good inspection report will tell a person precisely the condition of the house at the time of writing. A well-written report will direct an owner, buyer, or seller to any action that is required to bring a house up to good condition relevant to its age.

2. Do I have the right stuff?

A home inspector is not an engineer and does not have a crystal ball. A good inspector cannot predict what is going to happen in the future or what the value of the house will be down the road. Assessing value is the task of the appraiser and life expectancy comes from plumbers, window suppliers, and other specialists. However, the home inspector should be an expert in understanding exactly what is happening to the house at the time of the inspection. In fact, a good home inspector needs to have a solid understanding of all the elements and systems of a home.

3. Do I live in a suitable market?

These days, most realtors realize that a home inspection is necessary at time of sale. Today, more than 90% of buyers have a home inspection, so that they know exactly what they are buying. Sellers are also learning the value of a home inspection. A good inspection will tell them what they are really selling and help overcome the surprise of being asked for concessions. Talking to real estate agents in your location can determine the opportunity where you live.

I’m still interested…What’s next?

Home inspection training ranges in cost from $1,000 to $3,500 depending on the level of expertise you desire. Before making the investment, a wise person would explore this industry further. The Kaplan “Transition into Home Inspection…Full or Part Time” course does an excellent job of laying out ALL the good, bad, and ugly aspects of being a professional home inspector. Upon completing this online class, you will know exactly if this is the right fit for you. You will now be in the best position to either move forward and succeed or abandon your consideration of a career in home inspection.

How to Inspect a Home Garage

Learn How to Inspect a Home Garage From an Expert Home Inspector

Inspecting a home garage is comprised of many different aspects—don’t forget to inspect an important component. Doug Hastings, Kaplan Instructor and home inspector for over 20 years, will teach you the ins and outs of inspecting a garage. From the outlets to the flooring to the garage door opener, Doug will show you how to look at several different features of the garage.

Video Transcript
Although we haven’t completed the outside part of our inspection, we’re coming across a door that enters into the garage. In order to keep the flow around the home consistent so we’re not running around, I would want you to come on in the door. And now, what we would do is we’d shift gears just a little bit, and we’d start looking at the interior of the garage. Now, there’s both detached and attached garages. This happens to be an attached garage, which has a few unique things that wouldn’t apply to a detached garage. But basically, what we’re looking for is do we feel it’s structurally sound. Do we feel that the fire barriers are in tact? Do the doors operate well? So, as we start passing around, a couple things I’d point out.
Number one: This is an underground sprinkler system. If you read your standards of practice, we don’t do nor do we test underground sprinkler systems. So, what do you do? The home inspector should put in the report that this is not a part of the inspection. The second thing that I would like to point out is we have an outlet right here. This particular outlet has that GFCI protection. This is a wet room or a wet area. We are required to test all outlets. So, with my little test button, I’m going to see if it trips off, and it does. All is well. With GFCI’s, it’s very important that you reset them. Never leave one on. If you don’t know what might be plugged into that outlet somewhere else in the series, and the power could be off to that appliance. Example: a freezer.
Now, as we go along, we’re going to pay attention to this. Now, although there’s sheetrock up here, this isn’t a firewall because this isn’t a common wall to the home. So, whether it’s completed or not completed wouldn’t mean anything to us as inspectors. Sometimes, we have to crawl around stuff to get where we want to be. It also makes looking for things a little bit more difficult. But you know, in a moment when I get to the other side, I should be able to look under the car and be able to tell you whether or not the slab is in good shape. As I’m passing this way, I’m going to pay attention to the door. Few things you’re going to want to do.
Number one: Do the rollers look secure? Are they in the track? Number two: Push on the track a little bit. Make sure it’s secure. Pay attention up here to the springs. Now, if there’s a broken spring, you would never want to test the door for the automatic opener, for fear that you would break it. So, look at the physical condition of the spring itself. Continue walking around, just like we did outside. We’re kind of walking around the perimeter of things. As we do, we kind of look back and make sure that ceiling lines, corners, beams above doors are all in tact. So, always, always, always look behind as you’re moving around.
Now, it’s important when you’re looking at the slab to judge it from this basis. Number one: A garage slab is not a structural part of the house. That means if the slab has a little wear and tear, it’s not going to have an impact on structure. I’m not trying to imply that it’s good to have a garage slab that’s all cracked and deteriorated, but I am trying to say that it isn’t a structural flaw if it is. So, if I were to take you over here and show you at the slab a little bit of the deterioration, we call that spalling. Some people will call that pitting. Pretty common and typical. It’s not something that a home inspector is going to be worried about. Now, if you’d like to comment on that, it would probably be a good idea because what we’ve always talked about is to tell people what did I see. I saw some spalling of the garage floor. What do I think about what I see? I don’t think it’s a big deal. At best, it’s a little bit of maintenance. Alright.
Now, you’ve explained things pretty well to the customer. Continue looking at the other door the same way that you looked at the last one. Springs, rollers, et cetera. As you begin to make the corner, you have to be aware of where you’re at. So, example. As I start coming down this corner, at this point, I am now a part of the house. So now, this fire barrier that’s a common wall becomes important. So, as inspector, I need to comment on any breaches or any holes in that fire barrier. Example. This vacuum, believe it or not, is a break in the fire barrier. So, you would want to point out the fact that that’s something that should be covered up. Now, they do make vacuum covers now that are fire rated. This just doesn’t happen to be one of them.
As we continue to look around, notice that there’s a register cover in the middle of the ceiling. We’re going to want to verify when we get up into the attic space that that’s not connected to a heat duct. Because if that’s connected to a heat duct of our furnace, we’d be talking about a break in the fire barrier again. Also, notice when you go back up to the ceiling that we’ve got an attic access with the cover off. Now, it may just be somebody left the cover off. If that’s the case, we’ll put it back on when we come out of the attic space, and the fire barrier is reestablished. However, if that’s a plywood cover or if it’s missing or broken, that also would be a breach in the fire barrier. So, once we’ve begun to assess the fire barrier issues, the last part of the fire barrier is the door.
As home inspectors of existing homes, we require a minimum 1 3/8 inch door. It either has to be solid wood or metal. So, this meets that intent. It seals shut. It doesn’t have to self-close anymore. It used to, but the code has changed on that matter. So, this is an acceptable fire barrier. Now, it’s time to take a look and see how does that garage door or garage doors operate.
I want you to be aware of how I’m not jumping around. Did you notice how, just like on the outside of the house, I flowed around the garage? Prior to closing and testing the garage door for its safety reverse, what I’m going to do is I’m going to grab my ladder and set it up at the attic access. Then once I’ve got that set up, we’ll test the automatic opener. When you’re setting up the ladder, again, you want to be careful not to damage anything, and you also want to make sure that you get it set nice and secure. Garage attics sometimes are a little trickier than the ones in the house. Sometimes, the ceilings are higher. So, you need some sort of flexible ladder that’s going to be able to change its dimensions periodically in order to get where you want to go.
With the garage, with the ladder in place, now we’re going to go on up into this attic as well. Now, we may or may not find insulation when we get up there. We’ll see what we find when we get up there. But nonetheless, we’re going to try and see now, is the garage attic structure structurally sound, just like eventually, we’re going to determine whether the house attic is structurally sound. Let’s take a look and see what’s going on up there. Now, it’s time to check the operation of the door. The homeowner gave me the combination, which isn’t too uncommon for us. So, let’s push the combination and see whether or not we can check the reversing mechanism of the door. It’s simple. Just take your foot and kick it under there. Make sure that it goes back up. Make sure things aren’t rattling around. Take one last little poke at the opener itself. Make sure that it’s tight and secure. Make sure that the wiring is correct to it.
After you’ve done that, then you want to go back and set the garage door back down. Now, you don’t want to leave until you’re sure that the garage door is going to stay down. So, give it a minute to reset. Then, we’re going to head back out the service door that we came in, and we’re going to finish the exterior of the inspection.

3 Keys to Building Your Personal Brand as a Real Estate Agent

Think of one of the most popular agents in your market right now. What is that agent known for? The most successful real estate agents in every market have a brand. Everyone in that market knows them for something. Here are three useful tips to help you establish a brand in your local marketplace.Build Your Personal Brand in Real Estate

Become an Expert

People want to hire experts. If your overall goal is to be known, you’d better have something to be known for. Do you really enjoy helping first-time buyers through the process of becoming a homeowner? Do you have an eye for interiors that gives your clients an edge when staging a home for sale? Whatever it is, establishing and promoting your expertise will help you attract more of the type of clients you want. It will also help you drive better client outcomes, because you’ll be doing more of the work you’re best-suited for.

There are a lot of ways to develop your expertise. Even if you already have a knack for something, becoming more educated in the discipline is never a bad idea. Take advantage of continuing education and professional development courses that are tailored to your expertise, or to test the waters in a discipline you think you might be interested in. Find a book on the subject, or reach out to someone in another market who knows more about a given topic than you. The one thing that all experts share is a thirst for knowledge. Now, more than ever, the only constant is change. Stay willing and eager to learn!

Create and Use Talking Points

Once you have determined who you are, how will you share it with the world? Develop a list of talking points that communicate your real estate expertise and your brand. Practice with them. Use them when communicating with clients, leads, other agents, and everyone else you associate with. Use them in your advertising and in media interviews. Use them every chance you get to talk about the value you provide for the people you work with. Becoming an expert is only half the battle. This step will help you develop ways to talk about your expertise and build the reputation that your brand supports.

You don’t need to script every conversation. But you should be prepared to answer questions like “What do you do for a living?” and “What makes you different from other real estate agents?” Use your talking points as a guide. Figure out the three to five things you want a conversation partner to know about you when they walk away. Allow those to shape the way you participate in the conversation.

Be Consistent

Consistency is critical to developing your brand. People are often tempted to stray from their brand when it will allow them to better present themselves for a particular client or opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with providing a full range of services. In fact, you should. But remain consistent in your brand and your message. Statistics have shown that people need to see a message multiple times before it really sinks in. People will also tend to gravitate toward a brand that shows stability. Nothing shows stability like unwavering consistency. Be who you are, even when you’re not getting paid for it.

Choosing the Right Real Estate Brokerage

The first step to success in pursuing a real estate career is making a good business decision. Part of becoming a licensed real estate salesperson is selecting a broker to sponsor you. Although it is true that you’re technically working for yourself, a real estate agent cannot act as a real estate agent independently; they must work on behalf of a real estate broker. This decision has the potential to affect the direction of your career in real estate, either positively or negatively.

Most real estate companies are constantly recruiting salespeople. However, there are wide differences among companies in structure, operation, and philosophy. Your goal is to find the real estate office that you like and will ultimately be the right fit for you.

If you haven’t selected your career specialty or real estate brokerage, there are a number of factors to consider. Researching, weighing pros and cons, and planning ahead are essential in getting your new real estate career off to a fast and productive start.

Choosing the right real estate brokerage. Kaplan Real Estate EducationScout the Area Where You Want to Work as a Real Estate Salesperson

  • Check the local area as if you were an out-of-town buyer
  • Stop by local real estate brokerages and review printed materials
  • Talk to active agents from different brokerages to gauge their opinions of the local offices
  • Drive by the offices. Is it a convenient location, ample parking, attractive exterior?

Narrow Down the Search of Real Estate Brokerages

  • What is the company’s reputation locally and/or nationally as a real estate brokerage?
  • Is the company well established in the local area?
  • Does the brokerage specialize in a certain area of real estate?
  • How is the quality and quantity of ads in the local papers and on Internet sites?
  • Do they effectively promote properties, the office, and their agents?
  • How many real estate agents work out of the office?
  • Do they serve a large market? Is it in the areas you would like to work?

Interview with the Real Estate Broker or Owner

  • What type of agent are they looking for? What are their goals?
  • As a real estate salesperson, would you be working as an independent contractor or as an employee?
  • Is there a training plan in place for new agents?
  • Are they members of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?
  • Is there clerical or administrative support for the agents?
  • What is the commission split and the benefit package?
  • What would your obligations be to the brokerage if you were employed?
  • Is there technology support and marketing resources?
  • What is the office’s market share?

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Deciding to become a real estate agent is a major move in anyone’s career journey. People enter the field of real estate from various occupations and careers and at various stages of their lives. Everyone has different reasons why they think real estate is the correct career choice for them. But, one question consistently comes from people looking to enter the real estate industry: “How do I become a real estate agent?”

The simple answer is, “it depends.” It mostly depends on where an individual wants to practice real estate. Becoming a real estate agent requires a state license. Each state regulates their own real estate licensing process, and each state’s regulations or rules are slightly different. But, there are a few basic requirements that are always consistent.

How To Become A Real Estate Agent

General Requirements to Qualify to Become a Real Estate Salesperson

To be eligible to become a licensed real estate salesperson or agent, you must:

  1. Be at least 18 or 19 years old (depends on the state)
  2. Have legal US residency
  3. Complete your required prelicense education (number of hours required depends on the state)
  4. Pass your state real estate license examination

These items represent the high-level checklist of what it takes to become a licensed real estate agent, but there are a lot of decisions you need to make along the way that will dictate whether your journey is successful or not.

Is Real Estate Right For You?

The first step in this process is making sure that real estate is right for you. As a real estate salesperson, each day is spent working for you. This means handling your own office management, paperwork, prospecting leads, developing relationships, managing contacts, and dealing with buyers and sellers. Reach out to local real estate agents and brokers and ask them questions about what the day-to-day work is like. Ask questions about real estate as a long-term career. Starting a full-time career as a real estate agent can’t be treated like a hobby. It requires a full commitment. Make sure real estate is the right path for you.

Understand Your State’s Real Estate Licensing Requirements

Each state’s real estate licensing requirements are different. Your state’s real estate commission website will list the official prelicensing requirements. Kaplan Real Estate Education offers a couple pages that narrow this knowledge gap down. The Steps to Licensing page is designed to show, in simple steps, what it takes to become licensed in each state. In addition, Kaplan offers a page dedicated to each state’s real estate licensing and continuing education requirements. See the link below for your state’s pages.

Enroll in a Real Estate Prelicensing Course

There are variety of ways you can choose to complete your real estate prelicensing education requirements, from live classroom locations at local real estate schools, some realty firms, universities and technical schools offer real estate licensing programs, home-study, and online real estate education. This is an important decision in your journey. Make sure you enroll with a school that has a good reputation, offers quality content and instructors, and is focused on positive student outcomes. Your real estate licensing education will be difficult and comprehensive, but it will also be the springboard to a successful career as a real estate professional.

Apply To Take the Real Estate Salesperson Exam

Timing is important at this step. Make sure you are following the application process with your state so you can sit for your real estate agent exam soon after you finish your real estate licensing classes. This process will be state-specific and include a fee. Check with your state’s real estate regulatory authority for complete details. Some states require you submit fingerprints and pass a background check. This can take weeks to process. In many states, the application process must be complete before you can register or schedule your exam date.  Don’t let the paperwork become a roadblock to getting started in your new real estate career.

Pass the Real Estate Salesperson Exam!

Passing the real estate exam takes more than finishing the educational requirements—it takes preparation. Not everyone passes the exam the first time. Preparing yourself to pass the state exam takes additional study time. Kaplan highly recommends enrolling in an exam prep class. Because the ultimate goal is to help you pass the exam, most of Kaplan’s prelicensing packages include the comprehensive Exam Prep Course. Taking practice exams, measuring your strengths and weaknesses, and working through comprehensive topical review will sharpen your knowledge and prepare you for exam day.

Show up to the exam location with a positive attitude, answer the questions using the massive knowledge bank you accumulated in your studies, and walk out with a passing grade on your state real estate exam!

You’re Almost a Real Estate Agent

Your passing grade on your state real estate licensing exam doesn’t quite mean you have a license yet. A real estate salesperson (agent) is licensed to act on behalf of a broker and may not act as a real estate agent independently. Consider finding a real estate broker early in your licensing process. Once you have completed your prelicensing education requirements and passed your exam, you and your broker will both need to complete final paperwork with the state. Once the form is accepted, your license will be issued, and you may practice real estate under the sponsorship of the broker. Keep in mind that there are a number of items to consider when finding the right real estate brokerage. Make sure it is the right fit for you.

Good luck on your journey to becoming licensed, as well as your eventual successful career as a real estate agent! Each day can be unique and different for a real estate agent, and can be a very rewarding and exciting career!

Contractors: Understand Your Local Market

To be an effective contractor, you clearly need the skill set necessary to successfully complete projects. But you also need to have an understanding of the geographical area, as well as the local real estate market and the competitive landscape of other contractors in the area.

What Geographic Area Will You Be Able to Cover As A Contractor?

Keep in mind, during certain times of the year, many contractors are working multiple projects, so distance between job sites can be an issue. Can you effectively perform your job if you have two different projects on opposite sides of your coverage area?

Understanding your local market is key for contractorsWhat Does the Local Real Estate Market Mean for Contractors?

How many real estate home transactions are there typically in the area you will be covering and how many of those homes are new? You should be able to find this information from your local real estate board. You need to have a good understanding of the local conditions. Is the geographic-area you are covering growing? Is the population increasing or decreasing? Do new structures need to be built or are there a large number of old structures that need to be remodeled? The U.S. Census Bureau provides valuable information for the construction industry, including tracking stats like number of building permits, housing starts and housing completions by area.

Know the Local Contractor Competitive Landscape

Who are the other contractors currently working in the area that you will be covering? What will you be offering that they currently do not? You should be able to find out this type of information from internet searches as well as talking to others in the industry. Too many companies simply copy the marketing messages of the competition. To get people to take notice of your service, you need to give them a reason to change. Do not sell your service simply based on price. Many standard market positions exist, such as, innovation, speed, experience, quality, etc. Make sure your chosen position fits your personality and what you deliver.

Top Ten Traits of a Home Inspector

Home inspectors play a critical role in the real estate transaction. Before the signature hits the bottom line, home buyers turn to you for a thorough assessment of the condition of the property they intend to purchase.

Like any career, there are common traits that the most successful home inspectors have in common. Here are the ten characteristics most commonly held by home inspection professionals:

10. Timeliness

You’re constantly working on someone else’s schedule. Your clients may have taken the day off from work to be present at the home inspection. It’s important that you show respect for their time by arriving promptly at the agreed upon time, and making the best use of your time with your clients.

9. A Desire to be Your Own Boss

If you’re craving a career that puts you in the driver’s seat, a career in home inspection might be the perfect choice. Home inspectors set their own hours and enjoy the freedom that comes with calling the Top Ten Traits of a Home Inspectorshots. It requires commitment and hard work, but the rewards are yours to reap as a home inspection professional.

8. Willingness to Help

You are providing an essential service. Your clients are about to make the single biggest purchase of their life, and they have chosen you to provide the information that will help them decide whether or not to move forward with that inspection. That’s a lot of responsibility. You will be most effective as a home inspector if you approach each job ready and willing to help your clients make that decision.

7. An Open Mind

When you pull up to a home with an aging roof, or damaged siding, you will likely start painting a picture in your mind of what you expect the rest of the home to look like. Preconceived notions have no business in a home inspection. It’s important to treat every home inspection as a clean slate, and not judge an entire property based on the condition of a single system or your first impression.

6. Ethics and Integrity

People want to do business with someone they trust, and trust is earned. Successful home inspectors carry and demonstrate strong moral character, honesty, and integrity daily. One way to demonstrate your commitment to ethics is by joining a professional home inspection association like American Society of Home Inspectors or The National Association of Home Inspectors.

5. Attention to Detail

As a home inspector, you can’t afford to have an “off day.” Attention to detail is critical for home inspectors. Be thorough, even when it means getting your hands and knees dirty. The success of your business relies on referrals. The best way to ensure good referrals is to conduct good, thorough inspections every single time.

4. A Network of Connections

Growing your home inspection business will rely on your ability to network with real estate professionals. No matter how good of an inspector you are, you need to get to know local real estate professionals who will refer you to their clients. People work with real estate agents they trust. As a result, the opinion of their real estate agent is likely the largest deciding factor when choosing a home inspector.

3. Working Knowledge of Residential Systems

Needless to say, if you are going to be successful in home inspection, you need to understand what you’ll be inspecting, and how it works. Because home inspection is a largely unregulated trade, the responsibility for getting your home inspection education lies with you. Choose a reputable home inspection school whose course offering works with your schedule and budget.

2. A Teacher’s Mindset

Think of the best teacher you’ve ever had. Chances are, that teacher was effective because they knew how to present the material to you in a way you would understand. As a home inspector, you will deal with complicated systems every day, and your construction vocabulary will likely be extensive. That’s important. But it’s even more important that you are able to clearly communicate the results of your inspection with clients in a way they will understand.

1. A Student’s Mindset

Like everything, construction practices and residential systems are constantly evolving. As a result, it’s a home inspector’s responsibility to stay on top of the latest trends and developments in home construction. A career in home inspection is a commitment to lifelong learning.

Four Tax Tips Every REALTOR® Should Know

Federal and state income taxes can be daunting and frustrating for all taxpayers, but even more so for the self-employed professional. Excellent recordkeeping is essential, and you should always select competent tax professionals who understand your business. For example, if you are an investor, your tax professional should be familiar with your types of investments, whether it’s stocks, mutual funds, real estate, and so on. Here are four tips you should consider before you meet with your tax professional in the next few months:Four Tax Tips Every REALTOR Should Know

1. Get your records organized.

Contact your tax professional. Request that they send you an organizer to assist you in assimilating the records that both you and your preparer will need to prepare your 2014 return. The organizer should include the items and amounts that were entered on the 2013 return—this will serve as a reminder of which records to gather. Do not drop off your tax information without talking to your preparer first. Also, be sure to have a discussion with them prior to the completion of your return. Ensure you have included everything necessary and obtained answers to all of your questions.

2. Do not fudge on income or deduction items.

Do your taxes correctly and ethically— just like you conduct your business in your real estate practice. Even though the IRS audit rate has significantly decreased, unreported income found in an audit can result in fraud charges and possibly end your career. I have been contacted numerous times over the years by REALTORS® who have had severe problems with the IRS over unreported income or significant overstatement of deductions.

3. Check and double check that you are not missing legitimate deductions.

Most self-employed professionals have a general idea of the deductions that can be claimed, but there are seemingly countless things to consider. Have you considered the business promotion (100%) versus entertainment (50%) issue, or the new home office safe harbor rule? Did you know about the heavy SUV or pickup truck enhanced write-off? What about the possible deduction of concealed carry and firearms training? Have you contemplated the use of an S corporation for your business?

4. Do not wait until the last minute.

The more rushed you are in preparing your information for tax preparation, the more likely it is you will do a lousy job. This often results in missed deductions and, in some cases, estimation of income and expense items, which is never a good thing. Also, don’t miss your chance to address longer-term strategies concerning key retirement components by putting money into tax-deductible and tax-deferred retirement plans, such as SEP-IRAs and 401(k)s for the self-employed.

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Chris Bird is a full-time, professional speaker, trainer, and workshop leader. He specializes in wealth building, tax strategies, independent contractor tax issues, retirement, effective money management, and using defined benefit plans. Chris is a Certified Financial Planner™ with a degree in accounting and a minor in business administration. A licensed Minnesota real estate professional, Chris also brings his 16 years of experience as a Senior IRS agent to Kaplan students as an instructor.

What to Look For Inside a Los Angeles Realty company

Each year, many American homeowners opt to sell their properties. If you are one of these homeowners, have you ever already sold your own home? Or even, what approach to selling do you plan on selecting? Many homeowners are under the misconception that selling their residence without professional assistance will return a higher profit.
If you live in or across the Los Angeles area, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance from a property id corporation. Real estate companies are usually a variety of agents who specialize in offering assist with homeowner’s that are seeking to sell their home. If you’re thinking about seeking assistance from a Los Angeles realty company, there is a number of ways to find the perfect company.

If you reside in the Los Angeles area, you need to use your neighborhood phone directory to identify a quantity of local real estate property companies. To obtain the perfect Los Angeles reatlor, it is advised that you simply speak to a number of real estate agents. Which means that you need to contact multiple real estate property companies. Inside your local phone directory, these lenders needs to be listed within the heading of property.
Along with utilizing your local yellow pages, it’s also possible to search on the internet to find the contact info of multiple real estate property companies around or in the Los Angeles area. There is a large number of online business directories and internet-based phone books. It is possible to begin using these resources to locate a quantity of natural hazard disclosure.
It’s also possible that you could discover a neighborhood property company’s online website. These web based websites can most be easily discovered by conducting a standard search. Searching for the specific reatlor otherwise you look for companies located specially in the Los Angeles area. Whichever online search method you decide on, you ought to be given many results.
Before purchasing a particular Los Angeles realty company, you’re encouraged to fulfill the agent or agents you are working with. When meeting they, you are asked to examine their customer service skills, with their experience and training a vendor. An agent’s customer care skills and property training is important for the successful sale of your home.
When viewing a particular real estate company or agent, you will also have to determine their approach to payment. Most real-estate companies will receive their fees based on a preset commission percentage. The exact dollar amount of the percentage is decided after your home who has sold. Together with the proper quantity of research, it is possible to find a Los Angeles realty company that just requests single percent commission.
Spending some time to get and look at numerous real-estate companies in the Los Angeles area is the greatest method to make certain you increasingly becoming whatever you buy. Why settle for second best, particularly when with a little little serious amounts of research you can find the most effective reatlor from the Los Angeles area?

Interested in an Appraisal Career?

While many appraisers enjoy the benefits of self-employment, positions with firms such as appraisal companies, financial institutions, and county assessor’s offices are just a few of the many opportunities for employment and on-the-job training. If you are a real estate professional, you’ll find your knowledge of real property appraisal a decided advantage. You’ll possess new insights and skills—making you more valuable to clients—and also fulfill mandated continuing education requirements.

Kaplan offers a complete portfolio of courses to meet practically all of your requirements, at every stage of your appraisal career. Whether you’re just starting your career as an appraiser or working toward your Certified Residential Real Property designation, Kaplan has courses to help you advance in your career.

Interested in an appraisal career?Levels of Appraisal Licensure

There are four levels of licensure that a professional appraiser can achieve. While the Appraisal Foundation is the national source of Appraisal Standards and Appraiser Qualifications, each state may have different regulations to follow. Check with your state board for additional information.

Below is an outline of the different appraisal license levels.

Apprentice Appraiser (Level 1): Depending on the state, the name of the first level of appraisal licensure could be Apprentice Appraiser, Beginning Appraiser, Registered Appraiser, or Trainee Real Property Appraiser. Certain states do not formally register the first license level. This level is not required to have previous appraisal experience and may only perform appraisal duties under the direct supervision of a Certified Appraiser. This is the first step in your career as an appraiser.

Licensed Appraiser (Level 2): Depending on the state, the name of the second level of appraisal licensure could be simply Licensed Appraiser or Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser. This level is able to perform unsupervised appraisals of non-complex, one- to four-unit residential properties with a transaction value less than $1 million and complex one- to four-unit residential properties with a transaction value less than $250,000. This is the next step in the progression of your career as an appraiser.

Certified Residential Appraiser (Level 3): Depending on the state, the name of the third level of appraisal licensure could be Certified Residential Appraiser or Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser. This level is able to perform unsupervised appraisals of one to four-unit residential properties without regard to transaction value or complexity. This is the most sought-after level of appraisal licensing for residential appraisers.

Certified General Appraiser (Level 4): Depending on the state, the name of the fourth level of appraisal licensure could be Certified General Appraiser or Certified General Real Property Appraiser. This level is able to appraise all types of properties. Appraisers who wish to appraise commercial properties unsupervised must attain this level of licensing. This is the highest level of licensing available in the appraisal profession.

The 5 Questions that You Should be Asking Existing Residential Real Estate Clients

There are five easy questions that you can ask your existing real estate clientele that can easily double or triple your annual commission income. Far too many residential agents fail to ask these questions and as a result are leaving tens of thousands of commission dollars on the table for somebody else to pick up.

By learning to ask these questions of all of the people you come in contact with in the course of your residential business, you can guarantee yourself a healthier bottom line. Top Dogs Commercial Real Estate Training

According to Salary.com, most real estate agents earn on average between $34,000 and $45,000 annually, which translates to 11 or 12 homes sold annually. To do that, agents need to make contact with a lot of buyer and sellers.

Suppose the average agent comes in contact with 10 people for each sale, via internet marketing, phone contacts, open houses, etc. That means they are touching between 400 and 500 people a year. While that may seem like a lot it’s actually less than 2 a day since so many agents work 6 or sometimes 7 days each week. And that doesn’t count other social contacts such as networking events, shopping expeditions, parties, etc. Learning to ask these five questions can take a moderate income and double it or triple it easily.

Here is what you need to learn to ask…

  • Do you own commercial investment real estate?
  • Do you want to invest in commercial real estate?
  • Do you own your own business?
  • Do you want to start a business or open additional locations?
  • Are you in a position of authority at a company that leases or owns commercial property?

Right now you may be saying to yourself, “Well wait a minute, I don’t do commercial real estate transactions.” Now is the time to get started and it’s never been easier.

For you to earn money in commercial real estate you don’t need to go to a mainstream commercial house, or to set up a commercial practice. All you need to do is to tap into the commercial real estate needs of your existing clients.

One of the most pervasive myths is that commercial real estate is difficult or that it takes years to break into it. But the truth is that has changed.

In the past, the mainstream commercial companies controlled the information and resources, and that kept residential and newer agents out of the commercial markets. That is no longer true. All of that is now available to all. The same is true for the forms and contracts that you will need.

With all that available to you, you can now be on par with every mainstream commercial real estate agent and company.

All you need now is the fundamental knowledge

And, now you can get that knowledge quickly and stop leaving your commercial commissions on the table for someone else to pick up. What that really means is that you can dramatically increase your income by tapping into the big commissions that commercial agents routinely earn. And that is all together for you in one affordable and easy to use package. Just learn and then earn.

Top Dogs Commercial Real Estate Training provides step-by-step training to help licensed residential real estate professionals leverage their skills for success in commercial real estate. The company’s courses are mandatory training for commercial agents in some of the country’s best-known brokerages. Kaplan offers you the opportunity to enroll in both of Top Dogs’ courses at an exclusive price. Visit the Professional Development section of our website to learn more!

What is it Like Being a Home Inspector?

A home inspector is more than someone that has some construction knowledge or experience.  It is a business and to be successful must be operated as such. A home inspector must be willing to plan. This means he or she must write a business plan that will provide them with a path to follow.

Whether you have never been in home inspecting business for yourself or are a seasoned veteran, the importance of a business plan is critical for success. They must also have knowledge of construction; both new and old codes and how to blend them together. A home inspector is a problem solver and will need to understand the subtle signs of component failures and have the ability to direct the client to the solutions. Inspectors must be expert communicators. The presentation is important both verbally and in writing.  Good home inspectors understand two primary business functions. First, they must serve their customers better than anyone else and second, they must make a profit.

A typical home inspector spends his or her day in a wide-range of activities like inspecting homes for buyers, writing reports, speaking with prospective clients, and marketing to consumers and real estate agents. You should expect long days, long drives, physical demands, and that you will make mistakes. So many have a fear of making mistakes; you will and every inspector has. Because you may overlook something, a good business will carry the proper insurance, have a written contract, and adopt a Standard of Practice. These tools, as well as doing a good job, will control the home inspector’s liability.

What is home inspection really likeBenefits of Being a Home Inspector:

  • Setting your own hours
  • Working outside
  • Leveraging your skills and experience to help people
  • Less physically strenuous than many other professions in the construction industry

Challenges of Being a Home Inspector:

  • Clients and realtors are typically in a hurry-appointments are often needed on short notice, within 2 to 3 days typically, and then the report is needed within 24 hours of the inspection
  • Clients are often nervous and looking to you to provide clarity and understanding at a time when they may have doubts
  • Understanding all the subsystems of a home can be daunting

Home Inspectors: Understand Your Local Market

To be an effective home inspector, you clearly need the skill set necessary to perform inspections. But you also need to have an understanding of the local real estate market and the competitive landscape of other home inspection businesses in the area.

What Will Your Home Inspection Coverage Area Be?

What geographic area will you realistically be able to cover? Keep in mind many home inspectors perform multiple home inspections a day, so distance between homes can be an issue. Over 40% of all home inspectors perform two or more inspections a day.

Home Inspectors need to understand their local market for successWhat Does Your Local Real Estate Market Mean For Home Inspections?

How many real estate home transactions are there typically in the area you will be covering and how many of those homes will be inspected. You should be able to find this information from your local real estate board. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) estimates that 77% of the homes sold in the United States and Canada today are inspected prior to purchase. The market is still underserved, and the remaining growth potential is considerable.  However, local markets vary; you need to know local conditions. You can find this information by soliciting local real estate agents and boards. Remember, the home inspection market is driven by real estate transactions, not the real estate market as a whole.  For example, if home prices go down but transactions go up, this may be considered a bad real estate market but a good home inspection market. By multiplying the number of inspections done in your market last year by the percentage of homes inspected you will have an estimated number of inspections done in that market.

Know Your Competition

Who are the other home inspectors currently working in the area you will be covering and what will you be offering that they currently do not? You should be able to find this information by searching the internet. Too many companies simply copy the marketing messages of the competition. To get people to switch to your service, you need to give them a fantastic reason to change. Do not sell your service simply based on price. This is a quick path to failure.  Many standard market positions exist, such as innovation, speed, experience, quality, and so on.  Make sure your chosen position fits your personality. By dividing the estimated number of inspections done in your market last year by the number of inspectors will give you a projected number of home inspections you could do in your first year.

Home Inspection Referrals = Success

How will you find you customers? New home inspectors will receive 100% of their business through direct referrals from real estate agents. Existing home inspectors receive approximately 90% of their business through REALTOR® referrals and 10% from their website. Home inspectors that have been in business for over 5 years will receive approximately 60% from REALTOR® referrals, 10% website, and 30% from past customers. This is a people business, the larger your network of satisfied people the more prosperous your business.

How to Become a Licensed Residential Appraiser

Steps to Becoming an Appraiser

In order to become a Licensed Residential Appraiser, and have the ability to do appraisals on your own, most states require you to become a Trainee Appraiser and obtain experience. Most states have different titles for the Trainee Appraiser license level, such as Apprentice Appraiser or Registered Appraiser. Certain states do not have a formal Trainee Appraiser license level. You can learn more about your state’s requirements by going to their regulatory website. Click here to find your state.

Step 1: Become a Trainee/Apprentice Appraiser

Education:

Complete and pass 75 hours of basic appraisal education, which includes three courses:

  • Basic Appraisal Principles   30 hours
  • Basic Appraisal Procedures  30 hours
  • 15-hour Universal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)   15 hours

Experience:

The Trainee Appraiser level does not have an experience requirement. Each Trainee Appraiser must be supervised to get the required hours of experience before applying for the Licensed Residential Appraiser level. Locating a certified appraiser is a very important step to becoming an appraiser. The trainee and supervisory appraiser must keep a log of work completed that will be reviewed when the trainee applies for any license to the state regulatory body. Effective January 1, 2015, all new Trainee (Beginning) Appraisers and Supervisory Appraisers are required to complete an approved Supervisor/Trainee course before they will be able to log experience hours.

Exam:

There is not an exam requirement to become a Trainee Appraiser on the national level; however, some states may require an exam. To find your state’s requirements, click here.

Application:

The national criteria do not require a license, so application is not mandated. However, check with your state to see if they have additional requirements for this level.

Step 2: Become a Licensed Residential Appraiser

Once you become a Licensed Appraiser, you will be able to perform appraisals on your own. At the Licensed Appraiser level, you can appraise non-complex, one- to four-unit residential properties less than $1,000,000 and complex one- to four-unit residential properties less than $250,000 in market value. Once you complete the criteria below, you can apply to become a Licensed Appraiser.

Education:

You must complete a total of 150 hours of education. The 150 hours includes the 75 hours required for the trainee level and four additional courses:

  • Residential Market Analysis and Highest and Best Use  15 hours
  • Residential Appraiser Site Valuation and Cost Approach  15 hours
  • Residential Sales Comparison and Income Approaches  30 hours
  • Residential Report Writing and Case Studies   15 hours

Experience:

You are required to complete 2,000 hours of experience in no less than 12 months. These hours must be directly supervised by an acceptable supervisory appraiser. Appraisers are required to maintain a log jointly with the supervisory appraiser.

Exam:

The Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB)-approved Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser examination must be successfully completed. All education, degree, and experience hours must be completed prior to taking the national exam.

Degree:

Complete 30 semester hours of college-level education from an accredited college, junior college, community college, or university. An associate degree  or higher satisfies this requirement.

Realty Connection – Pairing Students and Agents with the Right Broker

Realty Connection - Find the Right BrokerKaplan has invited Realty Connection CEO and co-founder Dan Gerlock to contribute to the Resource Center as a guest blogger. We encourage current Kaplan Connection users to create an account and check out the increased functionality of the Realty Connection platform. Learn more about this powerful online resource in Dan’s article below:

Choosing a broker is one of the most critical early decisions every real estate professional has to make. And choosing the right broker isn’t as easy as it sounds. That’s probably why 54% of active real estate agents are considering making the move to a new brokerage company. But how can you be sure you’re making the right choice?

Enter Realty Connection, a valuable online tool that puts the power in the agent’s hands. Realty Connection allows you to find and compare brokerage companies based on critical factors, including commission splits, monthly fees, franchise fees, office space, lead programs, technology packages, branding, and many more important characteristics. When you’re ready to reach out to a particular brokerage with questions, the Realty Connection platform allows you to do it anonymously.

There is not a single brokerage company that is a great fit for everybody, so the recommendations of friends and colleagues can only take you so far. We developed Realty Connection to help you increase your odds of pairing up with a brokerage that best fits your strengths and interests from the start.

Realty Connection is completely free for students and agents. We are a third-party, unbiased company with no incentive to steer you toward a particular company. Our goal is to make sure you find the brokerage that gives you the best opportunity to succeed.

Home Inspectors Help People

A Home Inspector’s Role in a Real Estate Transaction

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions most people will make in their lives. Home buyers need to go into the purchase knowing what they are getting into. Missing a major problem in a home can be financially devastating. Most home buyers do not know how to recognize these defects, and neither do REALTORS®.

A home inspector helps people through real estate transactionsHome inspectors are responsible for making sure this doesn’t happen. In fact, the home inspection industry was actually created more than 30 years ago because REALTORS® did not want to assume the liability of defects in the home discovered by buyers after the closing. Home inspectors must take seriously the importance of their role in a real estate transaction. They must be capable of recognizing all types of problems on all the various systems and components that make up the home.

Responsibilties of Home Inspectors

Home inspectors are specially trained to recognize the symptoms of defects, and report them to the buyer prior to the closing so they can make an informed decision. They cannot be ‘experts’ on only one or two aspects of construction.  They must be knowledgeable on all the systems and components with the same level of expertise. An inspector must never overstate a problem or the buyer might not buy the home for the wrong reason. Just as good home inspectors should never understate a problem or the buyer may incur a big expense when they move into the house. This is a fine line a home inspector walks and they must be skilled in order to perform this work.

Because a home inspection makes a real estate transaction more difficult, many people assume that the home inspector and the real estate agent are hostile to each other. This presumed adversarial relationship is unfounded and untrue. In fact over 92% of real estate agents recommend a home inspection to their clients. What the real estate industry does not want are untrained and unprofessional home inspectors that cannot be relied upon.

What Does the Real Estate Prelicensing Education Consist of? inShare0 Print View

Becoming a real estate salesperson can be a confusing process for many people. It isn’t necessarily a career that requires a college education, but it certainly helps. It also isn’t a career where you can simply “hang your shingle” and start doing business immediately. Becoming a real estate agent requires a license that is regulated by the state in which you wish to sell, buy, lease, or manage real estate.

Each state differs on certain aspects of the licensing process, including how much education is required, what topics are included in the required prelicensing education, the fees involved, and the type of examination. There are also different rules regarding the application process for a real estate license following the prelicensing education. Kaplan is here to alleviate any questions you might have. We have experts in place to assist you in learning more about what it takes to become a real estate agent.

What does real estate prelicensing education consist of? Kaplan Real Estate EducationReal Estate Salesperson Licensing Education—an Example

Just what is included in the real estate licensing education? It depends on your specific state, but to give you an idea, we have outlined a particular state’s prelicensing education here. See if you can figure out which state this is—the answer is at the end.

This state’s real estate salesperson licensing program consists of three courses: Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and Legal Aspects of Real Estate. Each course is college-level and has reading assignments in textbooks, assignments in workbooks, quizzes, practice exams, and final examinations.

  • Real Estate Principles (45 credit hours): Become successful in your field by understanding key topics, such as time management, the listing and selling process, property valuation, closing the sale, escrow procedure, taxes, financing, and more. Topics include: Land Descriptions and Subdivisions; Acquisition and Transfer of Real Property; Liens and Encumbrances; Leases; Contracts; Unlawful Discrimination; Agency and Business Principles; Ethics.
  • Real Estate Practice (45 credit hours): A real estate license does not come with an operating manual, so we have created a course that focuses on what it really takes to succeed in the business. This course will expand your knowledge of the industry in an engaging and effective forum. Topics include: The Business of Real Estate; The Art of Pricing and Listing; How to Find and Counsel the Buyer.
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate (45 credit hours): Make the law come alive and explore some of the common myths and misconceptions that affect your day-to-day activities. Find out how you can avoid legal entanglements with this exciting course! Topics include: Real Estate Laws; Contract Clauses; Influential Agency Policies and Concepts; and Disclosure Guidelines and Procedures.

The real estate licensing curriculum can be completed in a variety of ways, from live classroom locations around the state to textbook home-study and online options. To help you through this level of the real estate curriculum, schools add value to the courses with tools like study guides, study groups, instructor office hours, drill and practice questions, and exam prep courses.

Once you have completed your coursework, you will need to take your online final exam. Per this state’s regulatory body, you must wait 18 days between course final exam attempts. Failure to successfully complete you course’s final exam can delay your licensing. All college-level (licensing) final exams will be open-book and consist of 100 multiple-choice questions. You have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete each exam. Pass rates for all licensing courses is 60%.
Once you have passed the three course final examinations, you are eligible to sit for the state licensing exam. This state’s real estate salesperson exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. You have 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam. You must score 70% or better to pass.

Have you figured out which state we used in the example? The answer is…California. The California Bureau of Real Estate processes tens of thousands of new real estate license applications and keeps track of over 350,000 current licensees each year.

Each State’s Real Estate Licensing Requirements are Different

Because each state develops its own rules and regulations about the real estate licensing education requirements, we have developed state-specific pages. Below, you can find links to state-specific Steps to Licensing pages that outline, in simple-steps, the process required to become licensed. Kaplan also offers helpful Real Estate Licensing and Continuing Education Requirements pages that outline state-specific requirements that need to be followed in order to be compliant with your state.

How to Become a Home Inspector

Are you thinking of starting your own home inspection business but aren’t sure how to get started? When entering a new profession, there are a number of factors to consider. Questions like, what is it like to be a home inspector, is home inspection the right career choice for you, what are the finacial opportunities in home inspection, etc. People enter the field of home inspection from a number of occupations and careers, but one question is consistently asked from someone at this stage, “what is the best way to get started as a home inspector?

What does it take to become a home inspector?Plan for Success

Although your state may not have formal licensing requirements, home inspection takes a high level of knowledge and skills to enter this very specialized industry. To begin your  home inspection career with confidence, the first step is to complete a home inspector training program. In some states, home inspectors are licensed professionals who must pass a licensing exam after obtaining prelicensing education. Remember, these education requirements are minimum standards. If you want to succeed as an inspector, you should probably consider exceeding these requirements when it makes sense.

Recognize What You Do Not Know Yet

Most people have some experience that they can leverage and have other areas they are less familiar with. Perhaps they were carpenters, but do not know plumbing very well. Or they know current electrical practices, but not the wiring schemes from 40 years ago. Also, if you have never been in business before, then you might need additional training in specialized areas such as business management, accounting, or public speaking.

Choose the Educational Path That Works for Your Current Situation

Some people want to learn as much as they can as quickly as they can. Others cannot take time off from their existing job. Fortunately, there are many options for home inspection training courses, from hands-on classroom classes to online courses and OnDemand course.

 

plots for sale in uttrakhand

S S Properties was incepted in the year 2001 and is located in Dehradun, Uttrakhand. It is professionally managed Real Estate organization offering end to end property solutions. Our wide range of services in real estate consultancy includes Construction Services, Renovation Services, Architectural Services, Vastu Consultancy and Property Legal Services. Our consultancy can be availed for all kinds of residential, commercial as well as industrial properties. We offer complete assistance for buying, selling and renting of aforesaid properties. In addition to this, we are also counted as one of the reputed Liasening & industrial advisors. Our services have benefited a wide number of clients all over the country in the most professional way.

Our services are mostly centered in the state of Uttrakhand. Haridwar, Dehradun, Rishikesh & Roorkee are some of the important centers where we render our services quite proficiently. You can also avail our services in other parts of the state as well. The company has undertaken and executed many projects in the complete satisfaction of the clients. Avadh Enclave; a complex with international amenities in Jwalapur, Haridwar is testimony of our expertise in Real Estate. So if you are looking for any kind of property related assistance, feel free to contact us, we will be happy to assist you at the earliest instance.

S S Properties is counted as the most reliable Real Estate Consultant dealing in the properties of Uttrakhand. We offer our services for buying, selling, renting, leasing etc. of all kinds of properties viz. residential, commercial and industrial in the area around Haridwar, Dehradun, Rishikesh & Roorkee. The company has efficient backing of various resources for meeting the requirement of clients pertaining to real estate. We boast of our team of domain experts who assists us in offering customer centric services for the transaction of properties.

We are expert in offering complete assistance right from the start to the completion of property deal. Our wide experience of almost one decade with the expertise of the field has enabled us in dealing the complex procedure of property transaction quite efficiently. We take every measure in the timely completion of the undertaken projects. The company aims at providing ultimate satisfaction to the clients through our real estate services.

The company is at present developing a premium residential complexes vis a vis commercial complexes in Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Zirakpur and has upcoming projects under planning stage at pune, Ghaziabad and in Greater Noida. The company is further taking up developments of Hospitality sector such as Hotels & Resorts in Greater Noida.

The company has so far completed many major products including Residential, shopping Malls & Multiplexes, Institutional and others. We believe in company satisfaction of our clients. We have bagged appreciation from most of our clients and believe in counting the tradition of excellence by responding prec isely to the needs of each customer & client with innovative methodology quality and economical development.

How Do I Become a Contractor?

Are you thinking of entering the field of residential or commercial contracting? Entering a new profession—any profession—is a difficult decision. Whether you have years of experience in the construction industry or are new to the field, there are a number of items to think about as you take the steps to become a contractor. You should clearly understand not only what that new profession will be like, but the best path to success for you in that profession.

Identify What You Do Not Know Yet.

Most people who enter the contracting profession have some experience that they can leverage AND other areas they are less familiar with. Perhaps they were a carpenter, but do not know the accounting very well. Or they know current electrical installation practices, but not how to develop a price estimate. Also, if you have never been in business before, then you might need additional training in specialized areas such as business management, marketing, or public speaking. Identifying your areas of weakness and outlining a plan to improve your knowledge base and skill set is key in becoming a successful contractor.

how do i become a residential contractor?Plan For Success as a Licensed Contractor.

If you were going to build a house, would you only use materials that barely met the code requirements, or when it made sense would you use some materials that exceeded the code requirements? In most states, contractors are licensed professionals who must pass a licensing exam and obtain pre-licensing education. Remember these education requirements are minimum standards so you are not legally dangerous. If you want to succeed as a contractor you should probably consider exceeding these requirements when it makes sense.

Obtain Necessary Contractor Licenses and Certifications.

The certification requirements for contractors vary by state, but many require licensure in an area of specialization, such as residential or commercial construction, or an area of specialty, such as plumbing or electrical work. Those interested in becoming contractors should check with their state licensing organization. Choose the educational path that works for your current situation. Some people want to learn as much as they can as quickly as they can. Others cannot take time off from their existing job. Fortunately there are many options from hands-on classroom courses, to online courses and correspondence courses.

For example, the Minnesota contractor and remodeler license program requires each business entity to obtain a contractor or remodeler’s license. Each business entity must designate a “qualifying person” to obtain a contractor or remodeler license. The qualifying person to become licensed must complete the written Residential Contractor Licensing Exam. To learn more about how to get your contractors license, visit our How to Obtain a Contractor License page.

To obtain a Minnesota Residential Building Contractor License, you must pass both the Minnesota Business and Law Exam and the Minnesota Residential Building Contractor Exam. The exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions on each of the two topics for a total of 100 questions. The Business and Law Exam covers Minnesota laws and business practices. The Residential Building Contractor Exam is an in-depth exam about construction techniques and building code requirements. To learn more about the Minnesota Residential Contractor Exam, visit our About the Exam page.

RE/MAX Real Estate Agency Flower Mound TX: 5 Open House Tips To Remember

RE/MAX Real Estate Agency Flower Mound TXWhen you work with the best RE/MAX real estate agency in Flower Mound TX, Sean May Homes, you’ll get great service from seasoned professionals who know everything, or close to everything, about the real estate market in North Texas.  At Sean May Homes, we give our clients – buyers and sellers – every tool they need to make the right decision when it comes to finding their dream home or selling their dream home to a new owner.  One of the most important tools we encourage our buying clients to use is the open house.

Open houses are a popular way for sellers and their agents to advertise and showcase a home for sale.  A freshly-cleaned and, often, staged home allows potential buyers to see inside a home rather than just looking at photos of the home online.  If you’re house hunting with our RE/MAX real estate agency in Flower Mound TX and you want to tour as many open houses as possible before you make your selection, here are some open house tips to consider:

1 – Don’t go too far afield.
If you’re looking for a home in a specific city or neighborhood, limit your open house viewing to those areas.  It’s all too easy to get caught up in a frenzy of home shopping and the excitement of being able to walk through homes for sale and you could find yourself looking at homes that aren’t anywhere near where you want to be.  Why waste your time?  Stay in your selected area.

2 – Don’t be too strict with home prices.
If you’ve been approved for $300,000, it’s okay to look at homes that cost a little more and a little (or a lot) less.  A less expensive home may be just what you need without the higher price tag and a more expensive home may have a negotiable price.  Just try not to torture yourself by looking at homes that are too expensive and that you can’t afford under any circumstances.

3 – Listen to other buyers.
You won’t catch every detail of a home when you’re walking through so keep your ears open for comments made by other buyers.  They may see things you miss.  And more experienced buyers may know more about the asking price than you do – whether it’s too high or non-negotiable.

4 – Talk to the showing agent.
The agent showing the home you’re walking through likely knows a lot about the neighborhood, the home’s history and more so take the time to talk to him.  Introduce yourself but don’t feel pressured to supply contact information if you don’t want to, although a slightly desperate agent could be a sign that the sellers want to sell quickly and the agent wants to accommodate them.

5 – Know the DOM for each home you visit.
Knowing the DOM or ‘days on market’ for each home you plan to visit gives you a valuable bargaining tool if you find a home you love that’s out of your price range.  Great homes at reasonable prices sell pretty quickly.  If you’re touring a home that looks great but it’s been on the market 60, 100 or even more days, then there’s a good chance it’s overpriced and the seller may be willing to negotiate just to get out from under it.

When you work with the best RE/MAX real estate agency in Flower Mound TX, Sean May Homes, you’ll get great service from seasoned professionals who know everything, or close to everything, about the real estate market in North Texas.  At Sean May Homes, we give our clients – buyers and sellers – every tool they need to make the right decision when it comes to finding their dream home or selling their dream home to a new owner.  One of the most important tools we encourage our buying clients to use is the open house.

Open houses are a popular way for sellers and their agents to advertise and showcase a home for sale.  A freshly-cleaned and, often, staged home allows potential buyers to see inside a home rather than just looking at photos of the home online.  If you’re house hunting with our RE/MAX real estate agency in Flower Mound TX and you want to tour as many open houses as possible before you make your selection, here are some open house tips to consider:

1 – Don’t go too far afield.
If you’re looking for a home in a specific city or neighborhood, limit your open house viewing to those areas.  It’s all too easy to get caught up in a frenzy of home shopping and the excitement of being able to walk through homes for sale and you could find yourself looking at homes that aren’t anywhere near where you want to be.  Why waste your time?  Stay in your selected area.

2 – Don’t be too strict with home prices.
If you’ve been approved for $300,000, it’s okay to look at homes that cost a little more and a little (or a lot) less.  A less expensive home may be just what you need without the higher price tag and a more expensive home may have a negotiable price.  Just try not to torture yourself by looking at homes that are too expensive and that you can’t afford under any circumstances.

3 – Listen to other buyers.
You won’t catch every detail of a home when you’re walking through so keep your ears open for comments made by other buyers.  They may see things you miss.  And more experienced buyers may know more about the asking price than you do – whether it’s too high or non-negotiable.

4 – Talk to the showing agent.
The agent showing the home you’re walking through likely knows a lot about the neighborhood, the home’s history and more so take the time to talk to him.  Introduce yourself but don’t feel pressured to supply contact information if you don’t want to, although a slightly desperate agent could be a sign that the sellers want to sell quickly and the agent wants to accommodate them.

5 – Know the DOM for each home you visit.
Knowing the DOM or ‘days on market’ for each home you plan to visit gives you a valuable bargaining tool if you find a home you love that’s out of your price range.  Great homes at reasonable prices sell pretty quickly.  If you’re touring a home that looks great but it’s been on the market 60, 100 or even more days, then there’s a good chance it’s overpriced and the seller may be willing to negotiate just to get out from under it.

AQB Changes Affect All Appraisers

The Upcoming Changes Implemented by the AQB Will Affect ALL Licensed Appraisers

The Appraisal Foundation adopted changes to the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria that represent minimum national requirements each state must implement no later than January 1, 2015. The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) establishes the minimum education, experience and examination requirements for real property appraisers to obtain a state license or certification. In addition, the AQB performs a number of ancillary duties related to real property and personal property appraiser qualifications. To learn more about the changes adobted by the AQB, download the summary on the Appraisal Foundation website.

Please Note: Individual state agencies may choose to implement the criteria prior to the 2015 deadline.

Changes Being Adopted by the AQB

Changes to the college-level education requirement:

Additional Changes That Affect Licensed Appraisers:

  • Education and experience must be completed prior to taking your license exam.
  • All candidates must undergo background screening.
  • Appraisers may not receive credit for completion of the same continuing education course offering within the same continuing education cycle.
  • Supervisory appraisers must be in good standing and not subject to disciplinary action in the past three years. Appraisers must have been certified for a minimum of three years to be eligible to become a Supervisory Appraiser.
  • All Trainee Appraisers must complete all qualifying education within five years of application for credential.
  • Both Supervisory and Trainee Appraisers shall be required to complete a course that complies with the specifications established by the AQB.

What This Means to Appraisers

Applicants for certified general licensure should note that 3,000 hours of appraisal experience must have been completed in no less than thirty (30) months. If this deadline has not been met, the applicants will no longer be able to substitute the ten (10) subject matter college courses in lieu of a bachelor’s degree.

Applicants for certified residential licensure should note that 2,500 hours of appraisal experience must have been completed in no less than twenty-four (24) months. If this has not been achieved the applicants will no longer be able to substitute the seven (7) subject matter college courses in lieu of an associates degree and will require a bachelors degree.

Applicants for licensed appraiser should note that 2,000 hours of appraisal experience must have been completed in no less than twelve (12) months. If this has not been achieved the applicants will be required to have an associate’s degree. See AQB January 2012 “The Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria and Interpretations of the Criteria”.

Applicants for registered/trainee appraiser are not required to possess a college degree or to complete any prior experience. However, there are restrictions on registered/trainee appraiser, as they may not prepare appraisals unless supervised by another appraiser holding no less than a certified level credential. Most registered/trainee appraisers will therefore strive to achieve, at the very least, the license level. They will thus be impacted by the time restrictions as stated above.

How to Inspect a Garage Attic

Find Out From a Professional Home Inspector How to Inspect a Garage Attic

Garage attics need to be inspected just as thoroughly as the foundation, the floor joists, or the wall structure of the home. Learn from a professional in the home inspection industry how to inspect this attic space with confidence. Discover areas of the attic that have the highest probability of causing problems. Lead instructor, Doug Hastings, will teach you about the structural components and lateral bracing, the mechanical components, the fire barrier, and more.

Video Transcript
You know, it’s not uncommon for a garage attics to not have any insulation in them.  It makes it a little easier for us to inspect.  You know, on hot summer days like this, attics are never the most comfortable place to be but nonetheless, we need to inspect them and we need to inspect them just as thoroughly as we would the foundation, the floor joists, or the wall structure of the home.

We’re always paying attention to those areas that have the highest probability of problems so example, if I could look at this edge here would tell me that there’s an area where the roof comes over and fastens to the wall.  That means there’s a flashing detail on the other side of this.  What I would be looking for, because there’s a higher probability that there might be moisture there.  I don’t see any here but nonetheless, I’m going to spend a little more time looking there then maybe I would the body of the roof because the shingles themselves have a low probability of leakage.

As we walk along these tresses, again, you’re always sensitive to walking through, so be very careful of that.  But we’re going to pay attention again to that lateral bracing.  Here’s a little marking with a red tag on it that says lateral bracing required here so all of these vertical trusses would need to have either a two by six or a two by four that goes perpendicular to them, nailed together to bind them as one.

Continuing out to the outer area of the trusses themselves, you’ll notice that there’s a perpendicular girder truss out here.  And as we get out to look at the girder truss, you’ll notice that they’re connected with metal joist hangers.  Very, very good.  That’s exactly what we would want to see.  So we’re looking at those, making sure there’s sufficient nails in them, and making sure that there hasn’t been any movement in those trusses.  Again, that would be an area that had a higher probability of a problem so we’re going to spend a little more time there.

You know, as you look around in an open attic space like this, you get a chance to look at the metal gusset plates and you get to look at the other bracing that is involved in the construction of this attic space.  Sometimes you’ll also see some mechanical components that go through the attic so over here we’ve got a vent pipe which is probably venting a gas or exhaust fan down in the ceiling below.  Why is that important to us?  Had that exhaust van not gone all the way through the attic space, now we would be adding moisture into the attic and that would be unacceptable.  Looking over here, you can see a white plumbing pipe going up the wall.  You want to make sure that that’s connected.  There’s no loose connections.  That it’s not leaking either.  That would be a vent pipe most likely for that bathroom where that exhaust fan was located.  Now I got to tell you.  Venting is supposed to go out through the roof.  We talked about that when we were in the basement.

If it’s vented into the attic space, that’s just as bad as venting it into the house.  So make your way around the attic, always being careful about where you step.  Never count on something being as secure.  Feel it first and when you’re done, head on out and take the appropriate notes for what you saw when you were up here.  Well, this attic gave us a good look see.  There wasn’t any insulation up there which makes it a little bit easier for us as we’re crawling around.  One of the things we did notice was that vent in the ceiling was a bypass in the fire barrier so we’re going to certainly make note of that in our report.

Once you get down from the attic in the garage, make sure you take your ladder down.  Make sure that, if there was an attic access cover, that you put it back on.  Unfortunately, in this situation, there was no attic access cover.  So in our report, what we’re going to say is that there needs to be a fire rated cover put over the attic access.

A Home Inspection is a Service

A home inspection is a visual analysis of the condition of a home. This inspection is not technical nor is it destructive.  It is an objective, noninvasive examination of the all the homes major and minor systems and components.  This “visual snapshot” is most often done in the process of a real estate transaction and should always include a written report of the inspector’s findings.

A home inspection documents the existing condition of each component of the home, but does not project the past nor assure future performance.  It is not a warranty or guarantee.  An inspector must remain completely unbiased and willing to provide an informed opinion on each part of the house.

A home inspection is a service to your clientsA well-executed home inspection combines broad technical knowledge of all house systems with an ability to communicate technical issues in terms that a layperson can understand.

There are Four Basic Types of Home Inspections:

  1. Public
  2. Private
  3. Environmental
  4. Pest and rodent

Based on training or licensing requirements, inspectors may or may not offer each of the inspection types. What is important is that if a consumer buys one type of inspection, they do not get the information that is provided by the other three.  Home inspection is an information service; good home inspectors stay within the boundaries of the service they are being paid to provide. However, there is nothing that prohibits an inspector from selling multiple types of inspections to the same customer…for an additional fee.

What is it Like Being a Contractor?

A residential or commercial contractor is more than someone with solid construction knowledge or experience. While knowledge of construction is essential, successful contractors also possess a good understanding of business and sales concepts. To have a long and successful career as a contractor, you must serve your customers better than your competition AND you must make a profit.

What is it really like being a contractor?Being a Contractor Requires a Wide-Range of Skills

  • overseeing and managing the jobsite
  • estimating change orders
  • pulling permits
  • speaking with prospective clients
  • marketing yourself and your business
  • new and old construction knowledge
  • effective communicator

One of the key decisions you need to make is whether, as a contractor, you will still be providing any physical labor on projects–most contractors do, at least initially.

As with any profession there are challenges and benefits to being a residential or commercial contractor. You can expect long days, long drives, physical demands, and that you will make mistakes. But you can also expect to create great relationships while helping people achieve their dream of building a home or buisness.

Benefits of Being a Contractor

  • Non-traditional hours
  • Tangible accomplishments
  • Leveraging your skills and experience to help people
  • Variety in your work and work environment

Challenges of Being a Contractor

  • Non-traditional hours
  • Managing client expectations
  • Managing a challenging project and/or jobsite
  • Can be physically demanding

The girl Who Brought Down Lehman, Or So You had been Told

On July 16, 2008, just weeks before Lehman Brothers collapsed, then U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (Now NJ Governor and Presidential hopeful) announced within a news release “long prison terms” for two women “for their roles in orchestrating a home financing fraud scheme to defraud Lehman Brothers Bank … of greater than $14 million.” One of those women was Jamila Davis of Queens Village, NY who was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to 151 months (12.A few years) in inmates after being convicted in the Nj-new jersey federal court. Christie would say of these sentences, “This is really a long prison sentence that appropriately matches the breadth and complexity with the fraud committed …” Emphasis added by me.
The fact is, Davis’s fraud was neither broad nor complex. She was involved with a circle including a agent, a home financing broker, a corrupt real estate attorney and straw buyers to have loans on seven (7) upscale On the internet services homes. While seems like a crime now, it was a typical practice in the late 90?s and early 2000?s when “straw buyers” maintained as “investors” who have been flipping real estate properties for giant profits.

Davis, an African-American woman who had previously been 25 years or so old in 2002, was really a successful broker and quickly became skilled at helping those with a low credit score enter into homes of these dreams. Based in New Jersey, she catered to visible athletes, hip-hop artists and entertainers. One of people was Akinelye Adams, a rapper recognized for his song, “Put It In Your Mouth.” Adams had identified a 4,300 sq.ft. home in Cresskill, NJ that was listed for $1.7 Million but had negotiated down to $1.1 Million. Adams planned to close the sale with an appraisal was conducted. The appraisal went back at $2.2 Million, twice the purchase price. This was going to profitable deal for Adams.
However, Adams would back out of the provide favor of another property. Not planning to lose out on this property arbitrage, Davis arranged to buy the home herself but her credit, like this her clients, was poor. She approached Nicholas Infantino, a mortgage broker who had been feeding mortgages to Aurora Loan Services, then an affiliated mortgage initiator for Lehman Brothers Bank. Infantino recommended locating a buyer, a straw buyer, with better credit and expressed confidence that the deal would close quickly. Davis did just that, then created some fake pay stubs, bank statements and also other documentation. Davis feared the forged records were so shoddy which they would never pass inspection but Infantino assured her them to be sufficient. The phony bank statements weren’t verified and the employer in the straw buyer, Drama Entertainment, did not even exist. Weeks as soon as the documentation was made available to Aurora, financing for $1.5 Million was given against the property, and Davis’s first deal was in the bag. Six months later, she’d make use of the same straw buyer and same phony documentation with an additional $700,000 loan against the property.
Davis is acceptable with your ex investor/straw buyer about the property, making over $400,000 in improvements and the loan payments towards the bank. Here hope would have been to sell the house at the big profit and, do it all over again. Infantino encouraged Davis to accomplish more deals so she found more buyers to match with properties she’d identified. From February 2002 through May 2003, you use seven properties can be purchased and loans placed against them inside the quantity of nearly $22 Million, all approved and funded by Lehman … all made possible by appraisals that far exceeded the value.
An interior investigation was released by Lehman in 2003 to look into some of the documentation around the loans it held. They grew suspicious over documentation employed in Davis’s loans and with a little verification discovered these were fraudulent. Lehman turned the data up to the FBI. The FBI put Davis’s name with an “alert” list to every single mortgage company from the Nj-new jersey area. She immediately retained an attorney and meetings were initiated using the U.S. Attorney’s Office in On the internet services in hopes of clearing the problem up ahead of any criminal charges being filed. According to Davis, that meeting ended in a contract to offer the properties which may make Lehman whole, but that could not happen. Despite having prearranged investors to acquire the properties, Lehman, who had been presented Davis’s offer through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined all of them. In 2006, Davis was arrested on fraud charges.
The very first person to cooperate against her was Infantino (real estate agent) then your corrupt attorney, then her very own business partner. Knowing that they was considering womens rights, Davis asked her attorney to negotiate a guilty plea with prosecutors and hopefully avoid a lengthier prison term. However, prosecutors were not interested along with their just offer would put Davis imprisonment for pretty much A decade. She proceeded to trial with hopes that she could convince a jury which she had depended on legitimate appraisals, Aurora/Lehman’s aggressive lending practices which the total amount government entities claimed was lost by Lehman from the scheme was inflated.

Kaplan Partners with Appraisal Authors to Develop New Course

Kaplan Appraisal Education Partners with Industry-Renown Appraisal Authors to Develop New Course

Kaplan Appraisal Education, and appraisal authors Jeffrey Johnson and Tony Lesicka, have announced a new partnership to implement real-world appraisal examples from the pair’s popular textbook into a new Kaplan appraisal continuing education course.

The book, “Real Estate Appraisal Practice: A Collection of Examples,” consists of 142 examples based on actual real estate narrative appraisal reports. The examples will serve to bring the curriculum to life in Kaplan’s new live appraisal CE course, “Making Adjustments in an Appreciating Market—12 Proven Strategies.”

Kaplan’s new course is designed to take the guesswork out of the adjustment process through teaching mastery in 12 simple, field-proven strategies. According to Johnson, the examples selected for inclusion in the course will offer value to both seasoned real estate appraisers and less experienced professionals.

“These examples demonstrate appraisal procedures that can be applied to many different real property types,” Johnson said. “They show proven techniques that real appraisers are currently using, with unlimited applicability.”

The new course is slated for release in Kaplan’s Minnesota appraisal classrooms in May 2014, and will be released in Colorado and New Mexico at a later date.

How to Become a Certified Residential Appraiser

Do you want to upgrade your appraisal license to become a Certified Residential Appraiser? A Certified Residential Appraiser is qualified to appraise one-to-four residential units without regard to value or complexity. Once you complete the criteria below, you can apply for a Certified Residential Appraiser license. Note that some states may have additional requirements. You can learn more about your state’s requirements by visiting their respective regulatory website. To find your state, visit the Appraisal Subcommittee website.

Not yet a licensed appraiser? See our How to Become a Licensed Appraiser article to learn how.

Education

Complete a total of 200 hours of education. The 200 hours includes the courses required for trainee and licensed level appraisers, plus at least three additional courses:

Statistics, Modeling and Finance                                     15 hours
Advanced Residential Applications and Case Studies    15 hours
Appraisal subject matter electives course                        20 hours

Experience

You are required to complete a total of 2,500 hours of experience in no less than 24 months. The total number of hours can include the initial 2,000 hours obtained for the Licensed Appraiser level, plus 500 additional hours. Most states require these additional hours to be on complex appraisal assignments. These hours must be directly supervised by an acceptable supervisory appraiser. Appraisers are required to maintain a log jointly with the supervisory appraiser.

Examination

The AQB-approved Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser examination must be successfully completed. All education, degree, and experience hours must be completed prior to taking the national exam. All end-of-course exams must be passed.

Degree

All applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university.

Application

Once all of the requirements are completed and documented, you can submit an application to the appropriate state board. To find your state licensing board, visit the Appraisal Subcommittee website.

Is a Career in Real Estate Right for You?

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. But, there are always two sides to every story, and a real estate career is no different. Below is a straight forward look at a list of pros and cons of a real estate agent career.

Is a career in real estate right for you? Kaplan Real Estate EducationGetting Started in a Real Estate Career is Quick and Painless

Pros: In most states, you can complete the required training, become a licensed real estate agent, and start a new career in just a matter of weeks or months (depending on state regulations).

Cons: There is an investment in time, money, and effort required. Also, it comes with no guarantees. Passing the state real estate licensing exam is difficult and demands an understanding of complex topics and a varied skill set.

As a Real Estate Agent, You Are Your Own Boss

Pros: You’re an independent contractor and control your own book of business. You make the decisions. Couple together a good attitude and solid work ethic, and there are virtually no limits for the growth of your real estate business.

Cons: You’re an independent contractor, and are on your own to learn the market and the business.  You are in charge of building your lead list, maintaining your client’s needs, networking relationships, marketing your business, and managing the day-to-day office needs. It’s all in your hands. Many new agents fail to recognize how much work it takes to become a successful real estate agent.

Real Estate Agents Make a Good Income

Pros: Your income isn’t limited by an hourly wage or a corporate-dictated salary range. As a real estate salesperson, your income is largely dictated by the time you invest. Grow your real estate business by adding an assistant or get the appropriate license that lets you build your own brokerage. The growth potential is huge.

Cons: At first, your cash-flow direction will be out. Most new real estate agents need a nest egg to begin their careers. Getting your first sales to come in will take some time, and it will likely be a couple months or more before you cash your first check. Depending on the market you cover and existing relationships you can farm, it can be a feast or famine situation.

Real Estate Agents Work Flexible Schedules

Pros: You don’t work a mundane 9 to 5 job. Real estate agents set a day-to-day work schedule that works for them. Much of a real estate agent’s time is spent socializing, meeting people, and building relationships.

Cons: Having a flexible schedule in real estate means you have to be flexible to the client’s needs.  In real estate, you tend to work when everyone else is not. If a client calls, can you drop everything and be attentive to their needs, even if it’s a time that you normally would be spending with your friends or family?

As a Real Estate Agent, You Help People With Their Largest Transactions

Pros: Real estate agents receive genuine satisfaction from helping clients find the perfect home or sell their property at a great price. This is an exciting time for both buyers and sellers, and they look to the real estate agent as the expert to help them manage their way through the process with excellent client services.

Cons: Real estate transactions generally are one of the most stressful times of a client’s life, and you will need to be confident in your skills and abilities when things don’t go as planned. If a client leaves unhappy, whether it was due to your efforts or not, word-of-mouth spreads quickly and can affect your referral network and, ultimately, your bottom-line.

Real Estate is a Great Business

Real estate really is a great career choice. This article isn’t meant to scare anyone away from real estate, but is offered to be an honest look at the real estate business from both sides of success and failure. It can be a very difficult career if the training and work ethic fails, but it can be a seriously rewarding career if you are self-motivated, hard-working, honest, and enjoy networking and helping people.