Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn't Want You To Know, A Year In Review 2006

Friday, 18 April 2014

During 2006 I have written a number of articles known as the "Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn't Want You To Know" series which has been a consumer oriented series of information to help home buyers and sellers protect themselves when conducting a real estate transaction. These articles are a natural extension of books I have written known as "Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn't Want A Home Buyer To Know" and "Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn't Want A Home Seller To Know".

The first book written during 1990 was called "Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn't Want You To Know" and it had a fair degree of national success, much more than I thought it would, when I introduced it to the media during 1991/92. We sold the book in every state in the U.S. including Alaska, Hawaii and as far as Pakistan and Japan. This was not a bad performance for a self-published under-funded author.

I wrote this book because I was a licensed real estate agent in the state of Ohio and, more importantly, I was a residential mortgage banker for a few years and I saw many home buyers and sellers experience financial damage from dealing with inexperienced and unethical real estate agents. Many of the agents were either totally incompetent or so self interested that they would mislead buyers and sellers, anything to get them to sign a purchase offer or a listing contract. Many of these home buyers and sellers who were cut through the neck and didn't even realize they were bleeding because they lacked knowledge and insight into how the real estate game is played.

These books have always caused friction between real estate agents and myself because many agents resent the title of the books and the ill conceived premise that my position is that all agents are bad crooked people, which is false. In fact, whenever I did a media gig I always made it a point to clarify this is NOT a blanket indictment against real estate agents. There are good, honest, knowledgeable, full time real estate agents in the business who are highly professional. The problem is they are the minority and not the majority.

The major problem with the real estate industry as a whole is the ease with which a person can get a real estate license. While the educational requirements vary from state to state, in most cases, anybody can get a license to sell real estate in about 90 days. This just doesn't make sense to me. Consider that many agents are little old women who operate part-time, have no business or selling background, go to school for 30 or 90 days and are licensed to represent home sellers in property transactions from around $50,000.00 and up. I mean, a lawyer has to go to school for seven years to get a license to write a fifty-dollar will or represent somebody in a petty traffic accident. But silly-sally can go to school for 30 days and list a $250,000 house for sale? That does not compute in my mind. What kind of representation will a seller get from a part time agent with one toe in the tub? And the full-time pros know what I am talking about.

I have had many close discussions with agents while I was in the business and the bottom line is that part timers are often the weakest link in getting a deal done, unavailable for showings, etc. The bottom line, part time agents give part time results whether you are a buyer, seller or a full time agent trying to make a living.

And the truth is that most people, especially first time home buyers and sellers don't know what is going on...not really. How you select an agent to sell a home, the nature of contract law and the negotiable elements of listing contracts, purchase contracts, etc. is way beyond most first time buyers and sellers. The result is that sellers sign stupid long-term listing contracts with the wrong agents and the wrong companies and buyers pay way more for property then they would if they had more insight into the workings of real estate transactions involving commissioned real estate sales agents. I didn't originate the problem, I just identified the problems and the solutions for home buyers and sellers.

CAVEAT EMPTOR is legal jargon which means "buyer beware" and it means what it says. Whether you are a home seller or home buyer, you better know what you are doing when you are making decisions and signing contracts because, it is your duty to know and ignorance is no excuse under the law. If you do a stupid real estate deal, it's your fault. Which is a shame because buying or selling a home is a BIG business decision. It is a business transaction composed of people, emotions, contracts and cash and those are all the ingredients for legal and financial pain if you don't know what you are doing, and most people don't. And how are people supposed to get access to this information that will protect their legal and financial interests before they buy or sell a home anyway?

THE POWER OF THE NAR OVER GOVERNMENT AND MEDIA

What many people don't know is the National Association of Realtors  (NAR) is one of America's largest special interest groups who have incredible lobbying power over our politicians to write real estate laws that benefit the real estate industry, not consumers. Thus, the caveat emptor clause... state and federal real estate laws are written in the interests of your local real estate company and not you.

Something else people are not aware of is the tremendous advertising influence the NAR has over print and electronic media to manipulate the news you read, hear and see because of their advertising dollar power. There is an article written by Elizabeth Lesley of the Washington Journalism review called Demand Happy News And Often Get It and it exposes the corruption and manipulation of the news consumers count on to make decisions about buying or selling a home. I strongly urge everyone to read this article.

Real estate is like the stock market in some ways. When you hear of a fad like "flipping" you are probably at the tail end of that gimmick bubble, kind of like the dot.com days... everybody jumped in because they thought it was hot and it was really the end of the dot.com bubble. A lot of people have gotten caught with their pants down on the flipping angle.

Home foreclosures are up across the U.S. because real estate agents and the lenders who cater to them (the real estate industry has tremendous influence over the lending industry because the are the source of so many home loans) have qualified otherwise unqualified borrowers, by putting them in gimmick loans. In the mad dash to milk the market, people have been steered in to interest only loans, negative amortization loans or attractive teaser loans like low interest adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and other stupid financing that is NOT in the best interest of the buyer. That's why many of the foreclosures are happening. Naïve and gullible people were sold a bill of goods based on unrealistic property values. The market got hyped and the agents and lenders were right there to exploit buyers and sellers. Did some people make money? Sure. But many people have found themselves against the wall with too much "house", too big a payment and a housing market that looks pretty bleak for a while...

All it takes is one ripple in our fragile economy to turn the real estate market into a landslide. Here's a news flash: The economy is on shaky ground. The economy has been kept strong by housing sales and corporate profits and both are an illusion. The real measure of the economy is durable goods, like automotive sales, which are in the tank causing massive restructuring and layoffs. People can't afford to buy cars because they are scraping the enamel off their teeth trying to make house payments...

So, whoever you are, and you read my real estate articles, keep in mind that the reason I have done what I have done, and will do what I do, is because I am on the side of the consumer. I am on the side of the person who wants to be a better, more informed consumer. I am on the side of the person who wants to save a few thousand on their real estate transaction by being smart and on a more level playing field with real estate agents.

And you know what? By educating people and teaching them how to do deals more intelligently, how to weed out the part timer agents from the pros and save a few bucks in the process, I am actually helping the professional full time agents. The truth is that honest agents won't have a problem with my position because it will get rid of the riff raff.

Thanks for reading!

Jim Hart

Copyright © 2006 James W. Hart, IV All Rights Reserved

Real Estate Schools

Thursday, 17 April 2014

When a person is looking for the right living or office space, but does not know how to go about the buying process, then a real estate broker or agent is the person to approach. These professionals not only help a buyer find and select the right property, but also get some of the best deals for their customers. Today, careers in the real estate industry are highly rewarding. Hence, the importance of real estate schools arises.

Aspiring real estate agents are offered real estate pre-license, post-license and continuing education courses in the classroom. They are also provided with online courses. There are various schools that pass knowledge in this faculty. Conveniently located in various states, these schools have been training real estate professionals for more than 20 years. They help a majority of students obtain real estate licenses.

Online real estate courses offered are also second to none. Students are offered online sales associate pre-licensing and online post-licensing courses, with a wide variety of supplemental material to help students pass the real estate exam. Real estate schools offer thorough training to the candidates, making sure they will be prepared the day of their exams.

It is said that choosing the best real estate school can be a tough decision. There is an eligibility criterion that needs to be fulfilled in order to apply for the real estate license. To begin with, the student must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. In order to apply, a candidate needs to submit application to the Division of Real Estate with the appropriate fee. He must also complete and pass the state approved 63-hour sales associate pre-license course.

Real estate schools have grown in popularity over the years. Most of what is taught in real estate pre-license classes, courses, and training is designed to help the student know what is required to be a qualified licensed real estate professional. In addition to this, one needs good communication and persuasion skills to make a successful career in real estate.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Real estate includes residential and commercial property. The former refers to property that people live in and the latter to trade and lease of property intended for profits. Inflation, augmented income, better government measures, and easily available mortgages have improved consumer purchase capacities. Such progressive consumer trends have proved to be a boon for the real estate trade. Real estate includes real estate business purchases, sales, and property rentals.

Individuals are required to enroll in real estate schools to make a career in real estate, as is the case with many other professions. Courses conducted at such business schools provide an opportunity to learn tricks of the trade in order to identify market trends and patterns. They also provide certification to individuals who practice a particular trade. There are numerous real estate schools that offer a wide range of courses.

Individuals may decide upon a desired real estate education program. When selecting an institute, it is advisable to be cautious and make enquiries regarding college reputation, degrees, and fees. A number of these courses and diplomas are made available online. This enables practicing real estate agents to enroll for specialized courses and helps students living in different cities to take the courses they need. Some people may opt for such courses as a continuing education program. Certain institutes offer a money-back guarantee in case enrolled individuals are not are not successful in the real estate business upon completion of their education program. Accredited and reputed institutes offer a universal platform and can hire industry leaders as part of their visiting faculty.

People can become real estate agents upon completion of undergraduate and graduate courses and certified distance-learning programs. Others may be part of a family business and choose to get certified after joining the trade. It is possible to start working without any educational degree, but the success rate is not guaranteed. Most professionals are required to work as apprentices with listed real estate companies.

Real Estate Website Promotion is Easy

Saturday, 12 April 2014

If you are a Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Broker, or provide a Real Estate service you know how important effective real estate web promotion is to your business. The large number of people searching the internet for local, national and international real estate information can simply not be ignored.

At the same time you may think effective real estate website promotion is too difficult to master, too expensive to afford, or just too mysterious to understand - an area reserved for experts in the field of search engine marketing.

Like most practitioners of highly specialized skills, search engine marketing specialists have a vested interest in making their field seem mysterious and difficult to master. But it is not really that mysterious. It is possible for anyone to dominate the search engines in virtually any local market. All it takes is a bit of common sense and some hard work.

The principles involved in getting good positioning for your real estate website are quite simple and straightforward. They are the same principles that apply to search engine marketing for any website and it is actually quite easy to apply these principles to real estate websites. Many real estate agents have simply given up trying to score well in the search engines for local real estate searches because they don't properly understand the process.

But think about it for a minute. When you do a search in Google for "real estate Phoenix" or "Banff real estate" or "Halifax real estate" or "Fort Lauderdale real estate", and you see the same real estate agents or agencies coming up on the first page week after week, how do you think they got there? What magical real estate website promotion formula are they using or who have they paid to get this high position?

Now before you answer that question, ask yourself how you think Google assigns these positions to different websites. Does their giant computer just pull names from a great big cyber-hat? Do they use secret rules that only a few insiders know about?

Of course not. All the major search engines make it perfectly clear what they are looking for - and especially Google. If you want to score well for a term like "real estate Phoenix" or "real estate Ottawa", really all you have to do is pack your site with good information about Phoenix (or Ottawa) and focus your home page in a very deliberate way on those search terms.

The search engines like focused content. They assume if your site contains lots of content relevant to "real estate Phoenix" then it should be shown high in searches for that keyword.

Of course the problem is that there are already a number of other real estate websites offering good content focused on your favorite search term, so you are going head to head with sites that have previously established position, and it will take a bit of time and a fair amount of work to get past them.

That is fair enough. After all, if the real estate agent down the streat offers more focused and relevant information than you do about the market you are both chasing, she deserves to come up above you in the search engine rankings. It makes sense, doesn't it?

That does not mean you should not keep on trying. It simply means you should be patient and work harder. Take a close look at her site and outdo her by refocusing your site and creating more interesting and valuable content. Focus is the name of the game. Make it crystal clear that you are the "expert" on "Calgary real estate" by offering the kinds of things that an expert would offer.

And please, do not hesitate to mention the search phrase you are trying to get positioning on. If it is "Kingston real estate" or "Sacramento real estate", then use that term all over your home page. Say to yourself, "OK Google, so you are looking for real estate websites that have something to say about 'Sacramento real estate', well here I am. I breathe Sacramento Real Estate. I ooze Sacramento Real Estate. I AM Sacramento Real Estate." This is called Search Engine Optimization.

In the meantime, while you're waiting for Google to come around on your primary search term, find some less competitive ones to focus on as well. For instance, if you want to service the entire Ottawa area, but most of your clientele is in Kanata or Nepean, focus some of your internet marketing efforts on those smaller markets. You have a much better chance of getting results in these significantly smaller and less competitive markets.