Real Estate Law 101

Real Estate 101: The Statute of Frauds is a really old law that originated in England in 1677. It requires that certain transactions must be in writing, signed by the party to be charged, basically the person being sued. Real estate purchases are one of the transactions covered by the statute of frauds. In real estate transactions, the SOF further requires that the writing contain a description of the property, a description of the parties, the price, and any agreed to conditions of price or payment.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. Part Performance is when someone has paid all or part of the purchase price, taken possession, and/or made substantial improvements to the land. For example, if Bob made an oral contract with Sue to buy property, paid her a down payment of 25% of the agreed purchase price, and built a house on the land, then even though the SOF would invalidate the oral contract, Sue could argue that Bob’s partial performance proves the existence of the contract.

In addition to Part Performance, Equitable estoppel and Promissory estoppel may be used to prove an oral contract for the sale of land. Equitable estoppel is based upon an act or a representation. Promissory estoppel is based upon a promise.

Once a contract has been signed, a purchaser becomes an equitable owner of title at the time of the execution of a binding contract. Under the common law, the risk of loss is on the buyer after signing the contract for sale. In other words, if the house burns down between the signing of the contract and the closing, the risk is on the buyer. The buyer will still have to close the deal.

There are some states that have a different rule. States that have enacted the Uniform Vendor and Purchase Risk Act hold that the risk of loss is placed on the seller unless legal title or possession of the property has passed. There are a minority of states have passed this statute. So, in a majority of states, the risk of loss is on the buyer.

Surprisingly, its quite common for people to make oral contracts to sell parts of their property, not realizing it must be in writing. Later, when the buyer fails to pay, the seller is at a loss at how to proceed. An attorney familiar with the nuances of real estate law can help with this.

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Sell Commercial Real Estate Notes

Selling commercial real estate notes allows you to convert small monthly payments into an immediate lump sum of cash. A commercial real estate note is simply a loan document signed when you financed the sale of your investment property. Commercial real estate notes are available for office, retail and industrial establishments.

Commercial real estate note selling is based on certain fixed standards. The outstanding balance amount and the period of time are important for most buyers. Second in importance is the value of the property. People generally sell part of their commercial real estate notes instead of selling them as a whole. Partial sales are more profitable in most cases.

When a business involving real estate is sold, two notes are generally created, one each for the business and the real estate. The business note is similar to private mortgages and trust deeds, but it is not secured by real estate. A business note is generated when a person sells a business and decides to carry on the financing and collect regular payments from the new business owner.

A potential seller can sell commercial real estate notes as a whole, or a part of them. The best way to sell commercial real estate notes is to browse websites that display real estate note listings. Visitors to these websites range from individual buyers to companies and financial institutions. The chances of getting a better deal are very high. Real estate brokers are the natural source for selling commercial real estate notes. They can assist you in finding an ideal buyer. Advertising in local newspapers and real estate magazines also helps you sell commercial real estate notes.

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How to Work Real Estate Internet Leads Without Going Crazy

So you’ve finally figured out a way to generate real estate leads through the internet?

Congratulations, you’re rich!

Except for one tiny little thing, of course: actually closing your leads and generating sales.

Without a solid system, the only thing you’ll be generating is a lot of work and heartache. In fact, I would say it’s better to avoid online leads all together unless you’re willing to invest the time upfront to set up proper systems.

What exactly do I mean by a system? A proper lead follow up system consists of three parts:

1. Customer Service/ Follow Up at Internet Speed

Everything is faster on the internet. Think of the last time you shopped for anything online. Were you willing to wait even half an hour for an answer from an online store, or did you just move on until you found the answer immediately?

Online customer service is an entire article in itself, but here are the basics:

  • Make it easy for them to contact you – post your phone # prominently and use an online form – just posting your email address is worthless.
  • Respond within 5 minutes – after 30 minutes you may as well not even bother.
  • ALWAYS provide something of value in every phone call/ email/ tweet/ note on rock thrown through their window, etc. This could be market news, useful links, answers, etc.

2. Use a CRM System (even if it’s just an excel sheet).

37 signals, a hugely successful software company has a great saying: make half a product, not a half a**ed product. The same goes with leads: it’s better to work half your leads well, than try to work all your leads and do a half-a**ed job of it.

To do it right, you’ll need to track your leads. For no frills, make an excel sheet with their info, how/ why the found you, and what you’ve sent them so far. Don’t forget the most critical part: prioritize your leads (I can’t argue with the time-tested “A, B, C” system, but feel free to get creative if you need a little flair in your CRM).

My personal favorite for real estate CRM is Highrise, by the aforementioned 37 signals (just Google “highrise, they’re #1). It’s free up to 250 contacts, it’s drop dead simple to use, and it plays nicely with your email.

3. Give The People What They Want.

Ask yourself why they contacted you in the first place: what do they want? Figure that out, then create or find those resources and put them all in a folder called “resources” on your computer. For example: buyer’s guides, market statistical reports, recent neighborhood sales, advice articles about picking lenders, etc.

That way, every time you email a lead you can either attach something useful, or link to it in your email. It also gives you a great reason to call them, so you can ask permission before sending them an attachment.

In all honesty, there is simply no way to get the same success rates from online leads as you do from referrals and personal connections – that’s simply the nature of the beast. Done properly, though, you can generate a solid amount of business without letting online lead follow up take over your life.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go research the pet weight restriction of a condo building for a random lead who just called… hey, I never said it was easy!

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REAL ESTATE: Something You Might Want to Know

Real estate means the property consisting of land or buildings which also includes the natural resources of the land including uncultivated flora and fauna, farmed crops and livestock, water and minerals, simply speaking any improvements on it. Tenants and leaseholders may have the right to occupy or make use of anything that is within the dominion of the rented area depending on the terms and conditions set by the landlords.

However when we hear the words “real estate”, we often refer it to the “real estate market” from the perspective of residential living. This is grouped into three categories based on its use. It’s either be residential which is used for living purposes, commercial as used in commerce and industrial which is used in manufacture or production of goods. Residential are those undeveloped land, houses, condominiums and townhomes. Commercial are office buildings, warehouses and retails store buildings and examples of industrial are factories, mines and farms.

Those who are buying a home often need to borrow money in the form of mortgage because prices are generally well above their savings. They can either avail of fixed-rate or variable-rate.

Commercial leases are mostly longer that residential and lenders may ask for higher down payment on a mortgage for commercial than home loan since generally residential real estate is usually less expensive so it is more affordable for small investor

Generally, this is affected by the primary condition to where the property is located. Profits or losses come through revenue from rent and appreciation of the estate’s value. There is also risk of tenant turnover especially if the business model is in bad condition, product is unattractive, or poor management and many more. So landlords, lessees has to make sure all is well set before lending the area/place.

Real estate can help you earn more especially if you are in hand with generating leads and setting well the properties in case you are into selling or offering rentals. You have to make sure you will be working more of what you invested. Usually property appraisals are of good and or high value, you just need to work on it. You must always and consistently putting your client’s best interests first. With that, your personal needs will be realized beyond your greatest expectations. Investing in this even on small scale, was tried and tested as true means of building an individual’s cash flow.

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Is WordPress the Best Platform for Your Real Estate Website?

WordPress has become a popular choice for the development of real estate websites. However, is it the best content management system (CMS) for your real estate website? We’ll examine why it may not be the best choice for website owners.

Why Real Estate Website Designers Are Using WordPress

With WordPress being an open source and free platform, it has become the popular choice for website providers and developers. Whether you are building a community website or a store with shopping cart, the availability of third-party themes and plugins allows you to achieve just about anything you would want.

WordPress gives website developers a great starting point and tools to build a website. Back in the early years of our company, our website developers developed websites from scratch with the code using NotePad. WordPress now allows people to build websites even if they have no knowledge of coding. In fact, many who know how to build websites using WordPress now call themselves “website developers” even though they have no knowledge of the actual website coding.

Doing It Yourself – The WordPress Learning Curve

If you have little or no knowledge of website development, the WordPress learning curve will be steep. Hosting and installing WordPress can be an intimidating and daunting task. Even with the availability of installation guides, the installation of just WordPress itself can be a nightmare if you have no knowledge of the hosting lingo. When you do get WordPress installed, you have a generic website that requires the installation of third-party themes and plugins. This is where we see most users just throw in the towel and contact us. They have a project they wished they never started, and the time they’ve spent trying to launch their website could have been spent towards growing their business and getting more clients.

Having Somebody Build Your WordPress Real Estate Website

Even if you have somebody build your website for you using WordPress, we still see many users coming to us for help. They still feel their website content is hard to manage and the change of their design nearly impossible. The main reason is that since WordPress was designed for everybody of all industries, there is so much in the backend that it becomes overwhelming. Most website owners only require a small percentage of the features available in WordPress.

Design

WordPress can build beautiful and attractive real estate websites with many real estate themes available to install. Themes give you a great starting point, but they still require customization to achieve the website you really want. A WordPress theme comes generic, requiring quite a bit of customization to personalize it for your business. From our experience, a WordPress theme will only get you about 50% of where you actually want to be with your website. The other 50% requires stripping the loaded theme to only the things you want, adding your own relevant content and images, installation of plugins, and design customization.

WordPress Vulnerability

With the popularity of WordPress comes many struggles for real estate website owners. One such major and vital struggle is website security. Once a hacker finds one vulnerability in WordPress, all WordPress websites become open to an attack. In November 2014, a vulnerability was discovered that left almost 86 percent of the 75 million WordPress websites open to an attack. Just a month earlier, 800,000 banking credentials were stolen from hacked WordPress websites.

If your website is built on WordPress, most likely it is using third-party plugins. These third-party plugins can also contain vulnerabilities making your website open to an attack. If a vulnerability is found in the plugins, you are then at the mercy of the third-party developer to fix the security issue.

Now, it is up to you if you are going to use WordPress as your platform for your business or not. It is also your choice if you will do it yourself or you will hire somebody to do it for you.

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Quickly Selling Real Estate by Owner When Fast Cash Is Necessary

The good ole’ days were refreshing. You could put up a sign in your yard and get fast responses from interested potential buyers, or hire a listing agent and not worry about their commissions eating up your cash. Times have changed.

Real estate has become competitive. In some areas, it’s a sellers market. In others, buyer’s take the reins. No matter what though, there are many thousands more individuals in real estate now than there were back then. With investment seminars and flipping shows becoming more mainstream, the real estate pool is growing bigger on a daily basis.

But what if you are in a hurry to sell? Does that mean you are motivated? Let’s take a look at what constitutes a motivated seller, and whether or not some of these seller techniques will work for your situation…

Motivations:

  • You are facing foreclosure

Times can be tough. You may have been let go from that job and couldn’t replace the income in time. The bank sent you a letter giving you notice of a Lis Pendens (the beginning of a foreclosure, also known as a preforeclosure) You are out of options, and you don’t want the foreclosure to end up destroying your credit.

  • You are behind on taxes

Just as before, this is an immediate situation that can destroy your credit. Taxes will get collected no matter what, so bad credit doesn’t need to be added to the mix. Back-taxes will not only eat up your equity, but will also be attached to your future wages.

  • You have bad tenants

You are constantly receiving complaints about the tenants in one of your properties. Police are becoming a normal sight in front of the property. Perhaps the renters are turning your intended investment into a drug house. You don’t want to deal with the situation and would rather take cash out of the investment and walk away.

  • You are getting divorced

Let’s face it. Not many are fair in divorce proceedings. Who is keeping the house? Neither of you? So you have no choice but to sell quickly so you can avoid your soon to be ex like the plague, and get some cash for a fresh start.

  • You are retiring

Whether you are a landlord who is retiring from the business, or a couple with a home that you’ve had for years, you just want some cash for your equity so you can move to warmer climates and bingo.

  • You inherited real estate

You just inherited a house or multi unit property, but would rather have cash instead. You want a quick sale, and don’t want to be bothered with upkeep.

  • You are an out of state owner

You thought you could manage the investment property in California while relaxing in your home in Maine. Unfortunately, good help is hard to find and the property managers all turn out to be drunks. The grass is high and you are getting letters. It’s causing more headaches than it’s worth.

  • You just want some extra cash

You don’t have a need for the property in question and you simply want to pad your bank account.

These are all valid reasons that would make you a motivated seller. The only question I have for you in this case is… are you greedy?

A number one killer of real estate sales is an owner who has too much pride to accept that the market will not support their outlandish property valuations. The fair market value may be high, but nobody is biting. How is that quick sale going for you? The first step in selling your home quickly is acknowledging that you need to be open minded. If you can be open minded about the price of the sale, or the terms, then selling fast will be a breeze.

Where are my target buyers?

You have quite a few options. Some will take longer than others. Probably the number one way of selling quickly is seeking out a wholesaler. A wholesaler is a real estate investor who looks for discounted properties, writes an offer, then assigns the contract to one of their many cash buyers. Often, the wholesaler will have hundreds, or even thousands of investors in their contact list who are ready to buy immediately. Their investment partners have been qualified by the wholesaler with proof of funds, and will have shown the wholesaler multiple deals that they have closed in the past.

There are wholesalers that buy properties in multiple states, while other wholesalers are limited to a single state. Some of them even stick to a specific city or regional area. They are known for the use of phrases such as “we buy houses, any area, any condition”. While many wholesalers stick to deeply discounted properties, others work with low equity deals where Subject2 and seller financing can be put into play. These are some of the techniques that require you to be an open-minded seller that is truly “motivated”.

Another option for a quick sale is Craigslist and other classified websites. If you are going the classifieds route, you have to be prepared for the ‘tire kicker’ responses. There can be a lot of newbie investors, and people who are just looking that will take a lot of your time to screen out before finding a true buyer. When listing a classified ad for your home, make sure you include as many details as possible in the ad. Leaving out bedrooms, bathrooms, parking, and other features will only mean that you have to spend time discussing these things when taking the multitude of calls you will receive.

If classifieds are not your thing, you will want to find buyers through a more direct route. Go to where they hang out. There are forums such as EquityPaper, and BiggerPockets that have premium subscription options for real estate listings and other networking tools. These are forums where investors get together to discuss real estate topics daily. If you list your home in these professional member areas, or marketplaces, you can get fairly quick responses from interested buyers.

Determining property value to an investor

When listing your property, there are some things that potential buyers will want to know in addition to the standard property details. ARV (after repair value) is one of them. To find your ARV, go to Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin. On each of those websites, search for your property and write down the estimated value for each of them. Add all 3 of those values, then divide the sum by 3. The result will be your ARV.

After you have your ARV, you want to determine what the new buyer will have to put into the property in repairs. If your home is in great condition, you only need to account for simple things such as paint, appliances, and other things related to the buyer’s tastes. You would multiply your square footage by $10 to get the total credit the buyer will want. If the property needs some updates such as flooring, new toilet, etc, then you will multiple the SF by $15. Broken windows, doors, etc will be $20. If the house is a disaster and a complete rehab, then the multiplier is $30. Now subtract that number from the ARV.

Whether or not the buyer is a wholesaler or a flipper, they need to make something off of the deal. This can be anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000 or more depending on the location, value, and other factors for your property. Many good wholesalers will stick to the $10,000 pricepoint or close to it however. So take your new ARV and subtract the buyer profit for an expectation on how much money you will be offered for the property.

Creative financing for a fast sale

Assuming that the final number from the calculations listed above was not even close to taking care of what you owe on the property, then you need to learn to be creative. Some wholesalers and flippers will still take on a property with little to no equity.

Subject 2 Financing

Subject 2 is a technique that allows the new buyers to take over your mortgage payments, and assume control over the property. Sub2 investors are looking for leverage so that they do not tie up their credit, but can obtain a rental property at the same time.

A seller may have a concern when dealing with a sub2 deal. For example, what if the buyer does not pay the mortgage and it ends up as a bad credit item for the seller? Well, there are protections that are in place for sellers during subject 2 existing financing deals.

  • A single late payment can be a deal breaker. It can be made so that in this event, the buyer is in default and they lose the property back to the seller. This single possibility is reason #1 for it being a rare scenario. Most subject 2 investors are seasoned. They have been doing it for years, and have made millions through rentals with such deals.
  • Limitation clauses such as one requiring the buyer to refinance the property in their own name within a set time period reduces the risk even further. Let’s say that in 2 years time, the buyer is required to refi. By then, they will have accumulated enough equity by paying down your loan for this to be a possibility through traditional lending methods. Even in the worse case, they can secure hard money after that time in order to leverage additional time to flip the property or get other financing.

Contract for deed, or lease option

If you aren’t in a complete hurry for a bunch of cash, you can sell on a contract for deed, or a lease option. This will ensure that the buyer is responsible for upkeep, insurance, taxes, and everything else, while giving you a monthly income stream with little risk. With either technique, you are getting a fast sale. The best part is that you retain the deed to the home until the buyer’s obligations are met. If they default, you can simply evict them and start over again with a new buyer. The best part is that you are earning interest with your equity at a rate you agreed on in the sale.

FSBO (for sale by owner) doesn’t have to be hard. It can be quite lucritive, and amazingly fast when you learn to be open-minded and creative.

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Real Estate Appraisal – Bring Back the Cost Approach

In the last few years there has been a trend toward a complete discounting of the Cost Approach to value in residential appraisal. For owner occupied homes, the sole technique is now the Sales Comparison Analysis, which involves selecting and comparing individual property sales to a subject property.

Many lenders and government agencies no longer require the Cost Approach technique, even on new or nearly new construction, and appraisers are often instructed to omit it completely, or not to place any reliance on the results. When a lender does require that the Cost Approach be completed, it seems that this is only so that a proper amount of homeowner insurance can be determined. This is, of course, something critically important to the lender as well as the homeowner, but should not be the only criteria for the use of a cost-depreciation analysis.

Years ago a Cost Approach was always required for an appraisal report. The basis of this approach was the Principle of Substitution, which holds that a prudent buyer will not pay more for a home than the cost to acquire an equally desirable substitute home. Accordingly, the reproduction or replacement cost new of a home set the upper possible limit on value, particularly for an existing preowned home. So this analysis served not only as an additional means of estimating value, but also as a governor on runaway home prices.

The cost approach also served an important function as an educational tool for appraisers. To perform this approach, an appraiser had to have at least a minimal working knowledge of residential construction and to carefully observe the quality and condition of the various components of the home. Cost data services, which still exist today, provide continuously updated information on the various costs of construction involved in a home and some are quite accurate.

One service publishes a manual with a wealth of good data and information, complete with descriptions and photographs that illustrate the differences in quality and appearance for different types of homes, which is a great way for new or inexperienced appraisers to familiarize themselves with these features. In recent times I have come across reports by relatively new appraisers where no cost approach was done and it was painfully obvious that the appraiser knew very little about construction or how to evaluate the differences between their subject and the comparable sales they used in the Sales Comparison Analysis. I suspect we have a new generation of appraisers out there who have this deficiency and that’s a bad sign for the future. The best appraisers know something about construction and can immediately spot differences among homes as to their quality level. This ability is also critical for the appraisal reviewer.

The Cost Approach is not without its weaknesses. The primary weakness is in the estimate of depreciation, be it physical, functional or external in nature. These things are difficult to estimate, but again, the appraiser who learns how to do this becomes more knowledgeable and competent, both in the Cost and Sales Comparison methods. Another weakness is in estimating the land value. Actual sales are often not available as a means to determine what buyers are paying for a similar lot and so market abstraction (also called extraction) is used to estimate the ratio of land value to dwelling value from market sales of already built homes. Improperly done, this technique is subject to serious errors. The general rule for the Cost Approach is that it is most accurate when the dwelling is not very old and sales of nearby similar lots are available.

I am of the opinion that the majority of foreclosures involve relatively new homes and that this is where the largest amount of lending losses occur. At least, that’s how it is in my local market which has always had a lot of new construction. There are many reasons for foreclosures, but certainly one is upgrades.

Builders typically offer various home models at “base” prices and offer upgrades for both the home and the lot. Buyers can choose from a wide variety of options to enhance the home and can choose lots that are different in size or that have more trees or other desirable aspects. This is great for the buyer but can become a nightmare for the lender when a foreclosure happens because so many of those nice upgrades do not hold their value in subsequent foreclosure sales, and often do not hold their value as the distressed homeowner desperately tries to sell the home to avoid foreclosure.

The homeowner finds out they are “upside down” meaning the home cannot be sold for as much as the mortgage amount, especially when the initial down payment was very low or when financing costs were included (rolled into) the mortgage, necessitating an increase in the sale price. Another problem is inflated upgrade cost where some builders mark up the prices of upgrades well beyond normal prices that consumers pay at retail stores, even with installation added on. This is similar to what many service contractors (plumbers, car mechanics, etc.) do because they want to make a profit on the “parts” as well as the labor. The problem comes when the markup is excessive.

There is little an appraiser can do about upgrades when it can be shown that buyers often do select upgrades with their new home purchase. In the absence of current resales or foreclosures to compare with, it is not possible to estimate the resale value of upgrades, and values are estimated as of a given date, not the future.

The Cost Approach long served as a reasonable basis for making adjustments to market sales in the Sales Comparison Analysis for individual items. If a home needed a new roof, the appraiser had a handy source for determining the cost for this. Likewise for appliances, HVAC equipment, a garage and the like. Removing the Cost Approach and the good data that comes with it forces too many appraisers to have to guess at these kinds of adjustments and the results can vary wildly from one appraiser to the next.

Long ago homes were valued only by a Cost Approach. The Sales Comparison Analysis (formerly known as the Market Approach) came later. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that foreclosure rates and personal bankruptcies caused by unaffordable mortgage amounts and runaway home prices seem to have increased so much in recent years while the use of the Cost Approach has declined at the same time. Not do I believe it is a coincidence that the decrease in emphasis on cost minus depreciation began about the same time as tremendous inflows of capital into the marketplace encouraged every sort of easy money credit scheme that allowed so many people to buy homes they couldn’t actually afford and that has severely damaged not only the US economy, but the entire world. Mountains of money to lend tend to push caution to the side.

I believe that the Sales Comparison Analysis is surely a good valuation technique, but its down side is that there are too many clever ways for market participants to smuggle hidden costs, fees and even fraud into sales contracts, which make their way silently into market data services and onto appraisal reports. The same can be true for unhidden costs like seller paid loan discount fees and other monies paid toward buyer closing costs. At a minimum, an accurate Cost Approach serves as a useful check on the results of even the most thorough and detailed Sales Comparison Analysis where the appraiser is carefully searching for and analyzing such things. Undesirable things can and do happen in real estate and some can slip past even the best Sales Comparison Analysis because they happen quietly and incrementally.

An example of this is what I call closing cost price compounding. A real estate agent provides a seller a pricing analysis where the agent has found 20 recent sales of similar homes in the area and averaged the prices to arrive at a figure he or she believes is correct for the home. The home is then marketed at that price. Along comes a buyer (perhaps from a higher cost market) who lacks cash, needs some assistance with his closing costs, and makes an offer at or very near the asking price. The seller counters with an offer in which he adds the amount of assistance the buyer asked for to the price.

But what if this type of assistance turns out to be normal for the area and is already reflected in the selling prices of those 20 homes used to set the asking price to begin with? The new sale closes at the upwardly adjusted price and is then used as a “comp” by other agents and by appraisers and the process continues with every repeat occurrence of the needy buyer, causing home prices to rise, affordability to lessen, creating more needy buyers, and setting in motion a snowball effect where prices to rise eventually to the point that they exceed even cost new. This is not unlike interest compounding on your savings account. Over time your balance goes up faster and faster. Combine this with other inflationary market tendencies and you get a nasty bubble that will some day burst to the peril of us all…again.

Obviously, this could be avoided by competent sales agents who understand that those 20 sales already included heavy seller costs and inform their clients of this, but many do not and there is a built in incentive to push prices as high as possible among people working on commission. An accurate Cost Approach would tend to catch this anomaly immediately or at least decrease its effects down the line in future sales because when home prices begin to exceed what it would cost to build an equally desirable substitute home brand new, the competent appraiser knows that something is wrong and that they need to dig deeper into the market data.

A Cost Approach is also a great lie detector for fraudulent appraisals. If an appraiser included a Cost Approach and is using a known cost source or manual that others can subscribe or view, then the estimated costs shown in the appraisal can be reproduced from that same source by someone reviewing the report. So if the appraiser has fudged on cost, that can be detected simply by examining the cost source and parameters the appraiser had described. Moreover, even if the appraiser showed the correct costs, the fraudulently inflated appraisal will exhibit inflated land value in the Cost Approach with little or no support as to where the land value estimate comes from or why it is so high. In fraudulent appraisals, the Cost Approach is “plugged in” with numbers to match the Sales Comparison Analysis. That’s because an honest Cost Approach would have indicated a significantly lower value for the home.

There are other examples of how the Cost Approach could eliminate or reduce runaway home prices, and even detect fraud. I believe it is a foolish mistake to take away or encourage the disuse of any type of analysis or tool from appraisers that has a basis in market data. An analyst in any field of study should be willing and enabled to use as many ways as possible of looking at a problem. Focusing on just one method encourages tunnel vision. I say bring back the Cost Approach and let appraisers decide how useful or accurate it is on a case by case basis. It is not the end-all be-all solution but it is a valuable and worthwhile tool.

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Real Estate Broker Requirements: The Qualifications

The real estate broker requirements will give you an idea that shifting from one career to becoming a real estate agent is fairly easy. In fact, the qualifications do not vary much from one state to another because the demands are practically the same too. Although there might not be any particular degree required to become a good broker agent, it would not hurt if you have one because it will definitely be a good back up for whatever you are pursuing. And yet one of the most important requirements is that one needs to be able to take a series of exams to earn the license of being a broker.

Since the market of a real estate agent is huge and yet very competitive, one must be able to start with a real estate firm to work with. Usually a broker needs the help of broker and if you are just starting a career in real estate, it is best to find a broker you could work for. Then, the next thing that you need to do is to find people who are selling their properties and after that you need to search for people who want to buy that property. The more people you find, the more likely that you would be able to sell. This only means that you would have more chances of earning money.

In addition to what was already listed, becoming a broker agent is not easy but some say that it is definitely worth your time and effort. Not only will you be learning the tricks of the trade but you will also be equipped with the knowledge of the legalities that brokers have to deal with and keep up with. In fact, one of the major requirements of becoming a broker is working with technological advancements like the computer. If you do not have any knowledge about how to use it or how it works, it might be minus points for you. This type of profession demands for your diligence and perseverance because if you are determined to be the best broker, you can be one and the monetary rewards can be fulfilling too.

Perhaps by now, you have realized that the requirements are quite easy to meet and becoming a broker agent is actually within your arm’s reach. Here is a breakdown list of the requirements that you need to prepare so that you can immediately start with your broker agent career.

• Age requirement

• Pass the background check

• Completed real estate courses

• Pass the real estate state exam

• Completed application form with needed attachments

• Payment of the fees

The requirements being asked from those who wish to become broker agents are not totally difficult to gather. In fact, they have one of the simplest application systems yet it is one of the most rewarding in terms of payment. Just look through the basics of application, you might just convinced yourself that it is a good career to shift to or at least you might want to try.

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Real Estate Photography Tips For Realtors – Don’t Do it Yourself, You’ll Lose Your Commission Check

I’ve done it myself; taken what I thought were great listing pictures and used them for my online MLS listing. My clients thought they were fine and I thought they were just fine, until I started working as a buyer’s agent in Seattle a few years back.

I worked with over 40 different buyers a week and everyday I’d hear, “Did you see those listing pictures? There’s no way we want to see that house, it’s a dump! Does the listing agent know how bad they are?” Obviously, the listing agent didn’t spend anything on real estate photography.

My buyers would also see some great listing photos and want to get in to see the home that afternoon. We’d step inside and they’d wonder if it was the same home they saw online. They felt cheated because the pictures were nothing like the real home. (but at least the listing agent got buyers walking through the house).

It all came down to the listing pictures they saw online. That’s essential marketing for listings! Give buyers a great picture and they’ll jump inside the house that day. Give them a “do-it-yourself” picture and they’ll move onto the next home. The listing pictures make the difference, especially when you spend a few bucks on professional real estate photography!

Even when the listing pictures were better than the actual house, guess what? It still got the buyers inside! That’s your goal as a listing agent; get as many showings as possible. Professional real estate photography makes that happen.

With upwards of 80%+ of buyers looking online now, the listing photos are the first thing they’re looking at and basing their initial impressions on.

How much money in lost commissions do you think you’re missing because you won’t spend a couple hundred bucks for professional real estate photography?

If you did spend the well invested marketing dollars on some professional real estate photography…….

  1. You could have more satisfied clients because the home sold faster.
  2. You could have made more cash because you didn’t have to drop the sales price when the listing became stale on the market.
  3. You could look like a top producer in the area because of the quicker sales, better looking listings and more satisfied clients. Your overall image is enhanced, big time!

Isn’t it funny how such a small aspect of your business can affect the whole thing? Anytime you realize how one issue affects your net profits, that’ll make you perk up, right?

Now don’t give me the excuse that it’s too expensive because it’s not. Look at it as a marketing and advertising expense because that’s exactly what it is. And real estate photography is one of the best things you can spend your marketing dollars on.

You have a couple options……..

You could grab a professional in real estate photography in your local area and offer them $50-$200 to come to your listing and take some fabulous photos. Make sure they’re top notch, have all the right equipment and understand the goal of these photos. You don’t want to pay for real estate photography that’s no better than your own.

Your other option is to go with a company like Vicaso.com who does real estate photography exclusively. Their business is listing photos for real estate agents!

You can schedule your photo shoot on their website, pay about $200 or so and get the most captivating listing photos you’ll ever see. Even if you have a crack house listed for sale, their real estate photography will make it look like a palace.

I’m telling you; don’t skimp on your real estate photography. Look at the cost as an investment. If you spent $200 on professional real estate photography and got back another $20,000 in commissions that year from faster sales, more clients, and higher listing prices, wouldn’t that be worth it? You betcha!

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U.S. Real Estate Predictions for 2019

Similar as to how political pundits claim that this election cycle will be the most important in a generation, this year could be the most important year in recent memory in terms of mortgage loans and the residential real estate industry at large. (And if you believe that I have some swap land in Florida I’d like to sell you). For a variety of reasons, I have decided unilaterally to keep it short and sweet this year. Hence, here are the three perennial predictions for 2019.

1. Gig Work.

At first glance, the phrase “Gig Work” seems antithetical to sound mortgage underwriting standards, but it is in fact actually very refreshing. And that is to say that as the aftermath of the 2008 crash could not be further from the subconscious, there perhaps is subprime “creep” into present underwriting standards. But this is not your Daddy’s Oldsmobile underwriting standards. Meaning, that lenders today are more than willing to count part-time and intermittent work as bonifide income, even though it had been looked down upon post-2008.

According to Saideh Brown, President Emeritus of the National Council of Women at the United Nations, “Mortgage lenders are beginning to factor in gig-work for mortgage approval. This is only going to become more prevalent with the current job market. Banks are looking into all sources of income and gig-work is quickly becoming a primary source of income for millennials and must be factored in to get an emotional buy-in to homeownership from this generational block.”

Thus, the bottomline for 2019 on Prediction 1, expect creative – yet reasonable underwriting standards to become apart of normal mortgage underwriting procedures.

2. Saved by the Millennials (again). Whaaat??

At second glance, who isn’t bored by the self-absorbed Millennials. Me for one, but not withstanding that tongue and cheek denigrative response to the flavor of the month generation – who will undoubtedly be replaced by the next off-spring of eternal hopefulless, they do at least make for good print. And here’s the angle; while many are concerned if real estate is a safe bet today, then historically speaking it is – and thus, one’s perspective should be long term, despite the naysayers on non-real estate appreciation for 2019.

According to Dan Green, CEO of real estate site Growella, “Rising mortgage rates aren’t slowing the Millennial Generation’s desire for homeownership. Pent-up demand will continue to unfurl through 2019, moving home values up across all price points. Like all markets, housing is defined by supply and demand. And, so long as supply and demand remain within tolerable ranges, housing will continue to be a good investment.”

Thus, the bottomline for 2019 on Prediction 2, buy now and forever hold your peace, since interest rates are still good.

3. Home price decline.

Real estate has always been local. Hence, the adage “Location, location, location.” With that in mind, there is nothing to catastrophically fret about in terms of buying a home as a primary home. If you’re an investor, then pick your fights carefully, since not all markets will perform as anticipated no matter how smart you may think you are! With that in mind (again), there will be a slight degree of variability – as there sound be, since it would be insanely moronically not to expect some degree of variability. Even in the Garden of Eve, market value likely dipped in price after Adam bit into the apple.

According to Ruben Gonzales, Chief Economist at Keller Williams, “As we look toward 2019, we are anticipating home sales to decline around 2%. We’re expecting it to be another slightly slower year as buyers continue to wrangle with higher mortgage rates after contending with several years of rapid price growth.”

Thus, the bottomline for 2019 on Prediction 3, proceed with caution as an investor, but as a primary homebuyer nothing should reasonable caution you from a buying decision, since home appreciation should be an afterthought, and especially so depending upon your hold period.

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