Networking in Real Estate

Any successful professional will tell you that their network means everything to their career. Whether you’re in finance, tech, or real estate, the people you surround yourself with can make or break your long-term achievements. Having a strong professional network is especially key when it comes to the real estate industry. The support of a strong colleague group is something that will further your professional success and will also help to expand your knowledge in the field.

 

In real estate, reputations are the foundation of your work. A large portion of client base comes from word of mouth, especially for agents. By having a network of colleagues in all areas of the industry, you create resources for yourself to utilize down the line. As the real estate industry has many facets, a well-rounded agent will familiarize themselves with each branch of the business. Knowing someone in all areas including; development, investing, contracting, and architecture is best practice for a thriving real estate career.

 

Most major cities are hosts to several real estate networking events each year. Even if you are unable to attend all, showing up at one can make all the difference for your career. At these events there are some best practices to abide by;

 

  • Take more business cards than you hand out. You don’t know who will actually reach out so if you have the contact information, at least you can make the first means of contact.

 

  • Be a good listener. While professionals attend these events to meet others, most like to talk about themselves. Give them the time of day, it could go a long way.

 

  • Utilize your time wisely. Likely, you will run into another agent who you know, say hello and move on, you aren’t there to catch up with old friends.

 

  • Preparation is key. Know what you want to say and keep it simple and know who you want to say it too. Often people get lost at networking events talking to one person. Work the room and know who you want your audience to be.

 

If you’re in real estate you probably aren’t a shy person. This is because in our industry your personality and enthusiasm are your best marketing tools. Real estate is something that is never going out of style, so create a strong network that supports you and your goals. You can never have enough connections to get you further in your career.

 

Millennial Home-Buying Trends

 

With the millennial generation reaching an age where they are becoming first-time homebuyers, the question is whether they’ll follow their parents home-buying trends. While most people assume that they will flock to big cities to support the “work hard, play hard,” lifestyle that is popular among twenty-somethings, in this case, the conventional wisdom is wrong.

 

In reality, millennials are increasingly turning to the suburbs as a location for their first home. One survey, conducted by the Demand Institute, found that 48% of millennials said they would look to suburbs when buying their next home. There are multiple things that millennials are finding attractive about the suburbs. For one, housing prices tend to be less expensive in the suburbs than for homes or apartments in cities. Suburban homes also offer more space, which many millennials are now claiming is an important factor in their home-buying decisions. In addition, living in the suburbs isn’t always a constant commute as it used to be since many jobs, especially in the technology sphere,let employees work part-time or telecommute.

 

Aside from greater indoor and outdoor space, millennials also increasingly list open kitchens as a desired aspect of a new home. Because these are more difficult to find in cities, they are yet another reason that renting an apartment isn’t always the go-to option for millennials anymore. It is also important to note that most millennial homebuyers are turning away from single=family suburban ‘starter homes.’ While starter homes are usually thought of as the go-to choice for first-time homebuyers (hence the name) millennials are looking for properties with more space if they can afford it.

 

As millennials move towards the suburbs, the big cities are becoming far less attractive. Affordability is commonly listed as the primary barrier to buying a home, which makes popular cities like New York and Boston increasingly unaffordable for millennials. This has led them to turn to the more-affordable suburbs. However, not all cities are considered unaffordable my millennials. Fortune lists Salt Lake City, St. Louis and Denver as three of the most popular destinations for millennial homebuyers. The increase in small businesses and low-cost housing in these cities are making them popular destinations for millennials, and as more of their peers move to these cities, they become increasingly attractive.

Overall, along with these newer, hipper cities, suburbs are becoming the most popular home-buying destination for millennials.

 

Most Expensive Place to Live in the U.S. Right Now

If you are contemplating moving to a populous metropolitan center, an item of concern that must be at the forefront of your mind is the cost of living. It is no secret that moving to a major American city is not cheap, and even the cities that are considered to be less costly are still more expensive than any other area in the country.

 

With that in mind, here is a list of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. right now:

 

San Francisco, California

 

Living on the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate bridge may bring some stunning views, but it also brings astronomical housing expenses that will inevitably break the bank — especially since the supply of single-family homes in the area is seriously lacking in comparison to the level of demand. In order to live comfortably in San Francisco, one needs to be making an excess of $120,000 per year, which is double the national average income.

 

Los Angeles, California

 

Seeing as this area is associated with glitz, glamour, and celebrities, it should come as no surprise that housing in Los Angeles is highly sought after. Although the overall cost of living is high, it is important to note that costs are driven up depending on the ZIP code one moves into. For example, the renowned 90210 ZIP code boasts a median home value in excess of $4 million. The rest of Los Angeles’ home values, on the other hand, hover around $475,000. In order to live comfortably in Los Angeles, one should aim to earn at least $75,000.

 

Boston, Massachusetts

 

Boasting a rich history and stunning homes that date back to the 13 colonies — as well as an educational environment and a booming tech industry — it is no surprise so many people are flocking to Boston in search of a new home. With an average home cost of $375,000 and a 3.6 percent unemployment rate, those who live in Boston must make approximately $84,000 per year in order to live comfortably.

 

Washington, D.C.

 

Living in the nation’s capitol is synonymous with a high cost of living. However, there seems to be a greater number of available jobs in the District, thanks to the countless government agencies, think tanks, and other organizations that operate out of the area. And with the average home prices hovering around $445,000, it is imperative to have a well-paying job — preferably one that pays $85,000 per year — in order to live comfortably in Washington, D.C..

How to Get Your Real Estate License

 

So you’re interested in becoming a Real Estate Agent? Good choice! Welcome to the best industry around. Although it has its ups and downs, the excitement of helping people find their home is an indescribable feeling. Every state has their own regulations, but becoming a licensed realtor can be accomplished through these few steps.

Take an Educational Course

  • Many states require that you take a course provided by an official real estate organization. Most of these courses require 60 hours of educational information and learning about the industry. For those who may possess a Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate, you may be exempt from the course. These courses are often offered in-class as well as online.

 

Fingerprinting/Background Check and Apply for Exam

  • As many jobs do, becoming a Real Estate agent requires a completion of a background check to proceed with obtaining a license. Since agents frequently enter the homes of strangers without them being present, it is important that you have a clean record when wanting to become a realtor. Some states run traditional background checks, while others may require fingerprinting in order to complete an FBI clearance. Once you have completed the coursework and passed your background check you are then eligible to apply to take the exam.

 

Complete Exam

  • Each state has a different exam based on their laws and regulations. Most of the exams follow a similar pattern of time allowances and questions. Test takers usually have about 3 hours to complete a 150 question multiple choice exam. Most states offer exam question banks to review prior to taking the exam. Every state varies, but a passing grade typically equals 70% or higher.  

 

Apply for your State’s License

  • Once the exam has been completed and passed,  you are eligible to apply for a Real Estate License. There is a fee attached to applying for the license, but once it is obtained, you are officially a real estate agent! Time to get out there any help people find their home sweet home!

 

 

For more specific information about your state’s regulations, check out Kaplan’s Real Estate Education page!

Luxury in all Shapes and Sizes

 

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The term “luxury” usually coincides with large and extravagant. When it comes to real estate trends, luxury doesn’t refer to only mansions anymore. A huge craze sweeping the nation is a fascination with tiny homes. Although they are extreme opposites, the two styles of houses have given home-buyers of all demographics a shot at affluence. Take a look at some of the most extravagant houses of all shapes and sizes.

 

A company in Portland, Oregon has made a name for themselves in the tiny home industry. Tiny Heirlooms became overnight sensations with their small accommodations for simple living. Their most innovative project is their work on a compact home, with the means to transform at the touch of a button. The living area has the ability to become the bedroom or the dining table through motorized additions. This tiny wonder also features a full sized bathtub, surrounded by natures beauty. Many tiny homes lack the capacity for a washing machine, but Tiny Heirlooms made it happen for this mini residence.  Though only standing at 200 square-feet, this little abode is on the market for $150,000. Check out the awesome virtual tour here!

 

It comes as no surprise that the most expensive and luxurious house in America resides in Southern California. In Bel Air the 38,000 square-foot mansion comes equipped with anything a person could ever need. Everything from an infinity pool to a 40 seater theater comes included with the small asking price of $250 million. Though it rests in the land of fame and fortune, this huge property remains on the market. All ages can enjoy this extravagant pad as it includes a full sized candy dispensary and some foosball tables. Long day at work? No need to worry, as there is massage room for unlimited use by the lucky owner.  Check out some photos posted by Forbes of this breathtaking house.

 

When it comes to living in luxury, many people have begun believing that size does not matter. Whether you’re seeking a cozy bungalow or a massive mansion, finding a home full of gadgets and leisure won’t be impossible.

 

A Brief Checklist for First Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home is one of the most important milestones in your life. There are plenty of steps that need to be taken before you buy a home, and if you miss one or two, you could be setting yourself up for major issues down the road. Make sure you hit everything on the following checklist to ensure yourself a smooth buying process and a successful first purchase.

Check your Credit Score

You’ll want to make sure you know your credit score before you go any farther in the home buying process. If you find you have a low credit score or there are issues with your credit score, you can correct them and get things in order early on. A low credit score will lead to higher interest rates and possibly the inability to get a loan. You won’t want to find your dream home and realize you can’t get approved for a loan, so make sure you have a strong credit score before going any farther.

Secure Necessary Documents

Applying for a loan will require you to provide the lender a book’s worth of documents. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last second to get any documents together, and if you can’t provide something you may not be able to get the loan. Most lenders will require you to provide the following documentation:

  • W-2 Forms from the past two years
  • Tax Returns from the past two years
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Loan Statements
  • Bank Statements
  • Your addresses from that past five years
  • Retirement Statements
  • Two most recent pay stubs

Being able to provide these documents will increase your chances of getting a loan, so start collecting them as they come in.

Start Multiple Budgets

Owning a house is expensive, and you’ll want to make sure you have enough money saved away to not just buy your house, but also maintain it. You should have already been saving for a down payment if you were planning on buying a house, so don’t plan on having that money after settlement. You’ll want a budget for monthly repairs and miscellaneous purchase. When you move into your house is when you’ll start realizing how much you actually need to have a functioning house. The other budget you’ll want to start before you actually buy your house is for repairs. You are now responsible for any repairs that will need to be made to your house, and if you can’t pay for them, you will have to resort to loans, which you will not want. Put away some money each paycheck leading up to your purchase so you can hit the ground running and make repairs as they come up.

There is no foolproof guide to buying your first house, and you will get advice from everyone who has been there before you. Take that advice and learn from other people’s mistakes so you don’t have the same issues they had. Take your time and do not rush into buying your home as it is a decision you’ll be living in for foreseeable future.

4 Top Tips for Young Entrepreneurs


There is no magic formula to become a successful entrepreneur, but there are certain things every successful entrepreneur does. Each success story is different, and there are a lot of things that successful entrepreneurs do differently. It is extremely difficult to excel at building your own business, and many young people find that out the hard way. The following tips will set you off on the right foot when you’re a budding entrepreneur.

Have Confidence

No matter what business you are building, you need to be confident that it will be the best company in the industry. There should be nowhere for doubt in your mind. If you start doubting yourself, you will second guess every decision you make. Entrepreneurs need to be able to make hundreds of decisions per day, and these decisions need to be calculated yet efficient to maximize growth.

Set Goals

You should be setting short-term and long-term goals. Your long-term goals should be a culmination of your short term goals. This will give you something to work towards each day, and in the long run these daily goals will lead you towards your long-term goals. Do not sell yourself short and set goals that you know you can easily accomplish. Nobody ever succeeded by just going through the motions.

Challenge Yourself

If your goals don’t scare you, then you should reconsider those goals. You need to get outside of your comfort zone to really thrive as an entrepreneur. This is not a career path for people who do not do well with challenges, and the more you can challenge yourself, the better you’ll be at dealing with external challenges. Real growth comes when you can branch out from what makes you comfortable to explore new options and find new ways of doing something. You may also find new revenue streams or a more efficient way of doing something.

Surround Yourself with Good People

You may have had the idea for the business, but there is no way you’re going to be able to build and scale a business on your own. You’ll need the help of a team of people who share your vision and are willing to work as hard as you are to build a successful business. You’ll be able to bounce ideas off of these people and go to them for advice whenever you need it.

Entrepreneurship is one of the most challenging yet rewarding careers someone can choose. Thousands of entrepreneurs start businesses every day, and thousands more close the doors on theirs. Hard work and dedication are the foundation of any great entrepreneur, and the previously mentioned tips will help supplement your hard work.

Tax Breaks for Home Owners

There has been an ongoing debate since the housing market crashed on whether or not purchasing a home is a good investment. I believe owning a home is beneficial in many ways, especially when it comes to tax season. Many homeowners may not know that they can write certain things off on their taxes each year, and this causes them to leave money on the table after they file their taxes. By taking advantage of the following tax write-offs, you can assure that you are maximizing your tax return.

Mortgage and Property Tax

Most homeowners should know to deduct their mortgage interest each year, but there may be an instance where it slipped through the cracks or it is your first year filing your taxes as a homeowner. The longer you own your house, the better your savings will be on your tax return. Along with your mortgage interest, you should also be deducting your property taxes each year. A lot of the time, property taxes are built into a mortgage, but you can pay them in a lump sum at the start of the year if you wish. There’s a really useful property tax calculator online that can help you find out exactly what your property taxes are for the year if they are built into your mortgage.

Energy Efficient Upgrades

One thing that comes with home ownership is the responsibility of making your own home repairs and upgrades. When you are considering upgrading your home, you will want to at least consider taking the energy efficient route since you will be eligible for a tax break on certain upgrades. While upgrades with energy efficiency in mind may be a little more expensive up front, you will save in the long run by lowering your electric bill each month and receiving a sizeable refund each year. If you made any upgrades in 2016 involving the use of renewable resources such as solar power, fuel cells, wind power, or geothermal power, the Renewable Energy Efficiency Property Credit states you are entitled to a 30% credit.

Aging in Place

If you decide that the home you are in will become your forever home, you will eventually need to make upgrades in order to make your home more accessible as you age. These “aging in place” upgrades are all eligible for tax breaks thanks to the Senior Accessible Housing Act. By utilizing these tax breaks, you can create a safe living environment in your forever home without spending your life savings on the upgrades.

Now that the housing market is stabilized there is an influx of first time homebuyers who may not know what they can and cannot claim on their taxes. This list will ensure you you don’t miss anything on your taxes in the future.

The Benefits of Buying vs Renting

It was not even 10 years ago when the stock market, and subsequently the housing market, were at lows comparable to the Great Depression. Fast forward a few years and houses are flying off the market left and right. It is a great time to buy in most cities across the country, and there are many benefits to owning a home that you just can’t get from a renting.

Fixed Mortgage

When you are renting, you are really at the mercy of the landlord when it comes to what you pay each month. While they do need to notify you of rent increases, the increase is most likely brought on by the average rent in the area going up. So if you do look to move out, you may not find anything better in your search. When you own a home, you are on a fixed mortgage, and you know what you will be paying from now until that mortgage is paid off.

Tax Breaks

As a homeowner, you are entitled to certain tax deductions at the end of the year. When you are renting, you never see any of your rent come back to you during tax season. For a list of what you can and cannot claim on your taxes, visit my previous blog post.

Make it YOUR Home

One of the biggest perks I found in home ownership was the ability to customize my home the way I wanted it. From the colors on the wall to what is on the floor and everything in between can be dictated by you. If you want to knock out a wall to turn two rooms into one room, you have the freedom to do that when you own your home.

Building Equity

The longer you own your home, the more equity you will have. When you get to 20% equity you are eligible for a refinance or a home equity loan. As a renter, the money you are paying in rent each month goes to your landlord and you never see it again.

Secondary Income

As a homeowner, you can now be the one who charges rent if you feel so inclined. Renting out a spare bedroom, or renting out an entire house in the case of an unforeseen location change is a great way to (usually) bring in some extra money each month.

While there are pros and cons to every purchase you can make, the benefits of owning a home greatly outweigh the negatives of home ownership. Furthermore, owning a home is worlds above renting when it comes to what you get back on your investment.

4 Inexpensive Tips to Boost your Property Value

Tracey Rancifer - Tips

The housing market is beginning to strengthen, and many people are getting back into flipping houses. The concept of flipping a house is pretty simple: sell it for more than it cost you to buy and renovate it. While big overhaul renovations like kitchen and bathroom remodels are pretty standard, there are plenty of other small improvements you can make to a property that will add up to a sizeable increase in resale value.

Clean

This should seem like a no brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I have shown a house with spider webs in the corners of a room and dust on the molding. Wiping down the walls, scrubbing the floors, and dusting will go a long way in improving the overall value of your property. You should also be cleaning the exterior of your home before you list it. If you don’t have a power washer, the cost of renting one will be nothing compared to the value you’ll get from what it can to do the appearance of your house. Make sure to not just power wash the house, but also the sidewalks, porches, and any other outdoor areas that will be shown. Last but not least, make sure you take out the garbage and keep it somewhere outside. The best way to turn someone off from your house is by bringing them into the smell of rotting garbage in your garage.

Paint

The difference a fresh coat of paint makes is amazing, and it will be one more thing the buyer notices they won’t have to do when they move in (unless they want to change the color.) One thing I’ve noticed of buyers lately is that they are constantly adding up costs in their head as they tour a home. If someone wants a home to be move-in ready, then they certainly won’t want to have to touch up the paint on a wall or completely paint a room. Painting the walls also gives you the ability to check for any small holes, dents, or cracks that need be repaired. A small jar of spackle and a few buckets of paint combined with a few hours of your time could be a small detail that catches the buyer’s eye and helps them make the decision.

Add Curb Appeal

You would be surprised at how a few plants and a new mailbox can liven up the outside of a house. There are a lot of ways to decorate a walkway with solar lights, stones, shrubs, plants, and flowers. Be creative and ask yourself what you would want to see if you were touring a new home. The first thing people see when they pull up should be inviting and set the stage for the rest of their viewing.

Change Fixtures

It may not be something you think about while you do it, but you spend a lot of time using the fixtures of your home. Door knobs and light switches are inexpensive and do not take much effort to swap out. Bring a new theme into your home, or tie everything together with just a few fixture changes.

Showing your home is not going to be a walk in the park, and there is a lot of work that goes into the selling process. You want to do everything you can to maximize the value of your property. By focusing on making improvements to relatively low-cost parts of the house, you can get the most out of your sale.