Fortunately, not being scared to ask questions has worked to my advantage. Not only have I learned the necessary information, I've also managed to discover additional information that I wouldn't have known otherwise. Thankfully, all that extra knowledge has allowed me to become fairly competent at my craft :-)
So, what are some of the things that I have learned about real estate? Here they are, in no particular order!
1. SHORT SALES. Even though the housing market in our area has remained even (ie no positive or negative changes), MANY sellers end up facing a short sale. In fact, more often than not, the sale ends up coming up short...Meaning, that once all the fees, taxes, commission, etc is paid out, the sellers have to dig into their own pocket and bring money to the table just to sell their own house. Getting a proceed check after selling your house? It's almost unheard of! Especially if a home equity loan is taken out or the home is ownly owned for a few years, that proceed check rarely exists!
2. CLOSINGS. When I started my training classes in the first of June, only about 50% of home sales were closing on time. Appraisals are taking longer than expected, final loan approval has become incredibly tight. The combination of the two will realllllllllllllllllly impede the closing process. However, by the first of August, only 30% of home sales were closing on time. If you're looking to buy or sell your home, make sure you can be flexible with your closing date :-)
3. DIGITAL MEASURING TAPES. When I list a property, one of the things I have to do is measure the rooms and list the dimensions. Not that hard, until you imagine yourself fumbling around with a metal measuring tape, all by yourself in a vacant living room! Thankfully, someone was smart enough to develop a digital laser measurer--and they only cost $13. Seriously, it's probably the best $13 I have ever spent!
4. FORECLOSURES. Most people like getting a good deal...that's human nature. People especially like getting a good deal on a home and that's where Foreclosed properties become very, very appealing! But did you know that the government loans generally REFUSE to finance a foreclosure??? I didn't! That said, most buyers have to have a minimum of 20% down in order to buy one of these properties. Or cash. Good old cash will always buy you a foreclosure!
5. TIME IS MONEY. During my first 3 months, I literally worked around the clock. I was going into the office at 7:30am on Monday morning, shutting down around 11pm, and doing that every week day. Saturdays were full days of showing houses--Sundays were Open House days AND a lot of times I managed to schedule showings before and after those Open Houses. How many hours a week was I working? I didn't even count. I knew better than to do that! Working with buyers is time-consuming. Managing a listing is time-consuming. Coordinating a closing on a house that's under contract is time-consuming. Fortunately, I was no stranger to long work weeks so the demands of real estate was very natural...that was, until I gave myself a concussion when I was trying to juggle too many balls. I'd never managed to do that at my previous jobs :-)
6. LOAN OPTIONS. By the time Labor Day weekend was here, I had 5 houses under contract...and of those pending sales, the buyers were using 4 different mortgage loans. We're talking VA, FHA, Rural Development and First Time Home-Buyer loans. Before I started real estate, I knew there were different down-payment requirements for the various loan options. However, I had no idea HOW DIFFERENT each loan can be, the various requirements that they have, even exceptions from "the standard" requirements, the paperwork involved, etc. ... But if I was going to learn the ins-and-outs of all the loans, I might as well do it at the very beginning :-) I'm just glad I'm not a banker and have to figure out which mortgage option best suits the borrower!!!
7. A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND "CALLS". It's worth the money to have a decent head-shot! Keep in mind, I absolutely HATE my picture. My face looks fat, my eyes appear tiny and beady (one of which is even lazy in the picture), my hair was in dire need of a cut,my jacket was too big, the list of dislikes goes on and on. I can't stand it. Had I not had my business cards printed right away, I would have had a new picture taken. Looking back, I'm soooo glad I didn't. Apparently, other people seem to really like it as it has driven a significant amount of interest and business my way. In fact, it's a running joke in our office that when somebody I don't know contacts me, it's because "they like my picture." And uh, usually it's true. Guess I have a head-shot for the rest of my life ;-)
7. AN AGENT VS. A REALTOR. Who knew that not all real estate agents are Realtors?! This is something that's briefly covered in our home-study book, but once you get your license, you really figure it out! Essentially, an agent is an individual who represents another person in a transacation. Anybody who acquires their Real Estate license is an Agent. So, what's the difference? A Realtor is an agent who joins their local Association of Realtors and pays significant annual dues each year to belong. Through this, they have access to the Multiple Listing Service (aka The MLS) which allows all the other Realtors to view all the listings within the Association's geographical area. A typical real estate agent does not have access to this service and thus, information sharing can be difficult in larger communities. The other big difference that some Realtors like to brag on, is the fact that Realtors are required to adhere to a Code of Ethics. Personally, the real estate agents that I have known are just as ethical and successful as the Realtors I have been around. Thus, I really don't consider that as something that sets us apart. However, because of the Code of Ethics, only Realtors are able to use the term "Realtor" and we have the fancy little "Registered" symbol after our title!