It’s All About Converting Real Estate Leads

Real estate agents must always be prospecting for new leads and then turning them into sales in order to stay in business. Capturing leads is just one part of the process. Once you get the lead, you must act upon it so you don’t lose the prospect to another agent. The most efficient way of converting leads is to use a client management system to organize your buyer leads and seller leads. Following up on leads as soon as you get them is also important. People want to work with agents who deliver good customer service and get them results. You must constantly be marketing yourself and your brand so that people remember you when they are ready to buy or sell.

Jennifer Baughn © by / // /\

Finding Real Estate Leads
Real estate prospects can come from multiple sources including the following:

  • Referrals from current and past clients
  • Website
  • Internet and social media websites
  • Newspaper and magazines ads, flyers and brochures
  • Open houses
  • Signage
  • Other brokers
  • Mailers
  • Business cards
  • Networking
  • Social farming

Successful real estate agents have their own website and are always marketing themselves and their client’s properties talking about real estate wherever they go, blogging and keeping up on market trends. They pass out their cards at business and social events. Agents advertise their name and company brand in the community, sponsoring events, ads in newspaper and other print media and on the Internet. Letting people know you are a Realtor, providing valuable information and constantly reminding them you are there when they need to buy or sell will help you capture more leads and convert them to sales.

Realtors also establish business relationships with vendors and other people they do business with constantly referring business back and forth to each other. This may include mortgage brokers, home inspectors, contractors, movers and other people in the real estate industry. They forge alliances and friendships with other real estate agents inside and outside of their area. Since most real estate agents specialize in one or two areas, when they have clients that want to buy or sell in areas that they do not work, they refer the business to another agent. Referral fees generated from other Realtors are a great source of increasing revenues and generating sales.

Many times Realtors from the same company who work different neighborhoods will team up to list a home. For example, if Realtor A works an area where Realtor B does not, and Realtor B has a client who wants to sell their home located in Realtor A’s area, Realtor B may ask Realtor A to either co-list the house or may simply refer Realtor A to the seller and ask Realtor A for a referral fee when the house sells. This way, the lead is not lost, the client gets an experienced local Realtor to sell their home and each Realtor also makes money.

How to Convert Real Estate Leads?
In order to capture leads, you need to respond within 24 hours or less. Otherwise, the lead may contact another agent. People tend to work with the agents that respond the quickest to their inquiries. Good customer service is essential to capturing new clients, keeping your existing clients happy and growing your business with repeat sales and referrals. People will want to work with you if they know they can count on you to respond to them.

When you contact a lead, screen them to find out their motivation and time table. If they need to buy or sell now or within the next month or two, then you know they are a hot lead. Warm leads are clients who are interested in entering into a real estate transaction within the next six months. Leads that have no specific motivation or time table are cold leads. Hot and warm leads should be pursued first because those will most likely turn into sales quicker. However, it is a good idea to keep in touch with cold leads, sending them information on an ongoing basis because eventually they may turn into a hot or warm lead.

When working with buyers, be sure to find out all the buyer’s criteria including price, number of bedrooms and baths, amenities and upgrades they want and home style preferences. When working with sellers, ask why they want to sell and if they need help purchasing a new home. Even if they are moving out of the area, you should offer to find them a Realtor. This way, you can also collect a referral fee and grow your business by just sitting back and waiting for a check to arrive after they buy. By screening your leads carefully, you will save time and money.

Real estate is a numbers game. The more leads you capture, the more sales and income you will generate. Your business will grow and your hard work and efforts will pay off. You should never stop prospecting and turning leads into sales, or you may find yourself looking for another line of work.

The key thing to remember is to maintain an honest approach to your work, and this extends to your approach to gathering and converting leads. Professionalism and a genuine transparency is everything.

What Makes A Good Real Estate Agent?

Finding a good real estate agent who you trust and who is knowledgeable about a particular neighborhood or area is important when buying or selling real estate. A local real estate agent is familiar with the properties in that agent’s area. Choosing a company that has name recognition in the area is also important. There are usually a couple dominate brokerage agencies in most areas.

The difference between an average and above average agent is the above average agent makes a point of seeing all the new listings in the area and also makes relationships with for sale by owners. The agent will preview properties for buyers and also keep track of properties that are in competition with their own client’s listings. Being able to discuss and compare the different homes on the market and their features in order to overcome buyer’s objections and help sellers price their homes is what makes a great agent.

Real Estate BarCamp 2010 © by Nick Bastian Tempe, AZ

Agents also meet other buyers when they conduct open houses so that they always have a pool of buyers who are ready and able to purchase homes in the area when a new listing comes up. An agent who is on top of the market in their area is always one of the first agents to show a home when it hits the market. The best agents network with other agents in their company and with other brokerage firms to share information and help sell each other’s properties. Being able to match buyer’s needs with the inventory in the neighborhood and being able to price homes to sell is what sets good agents apart from the rest.

Choosing a Good Real Estate Agent

One of the best ways of selecting an agent is through a referral from a friend or family member. Or if you have had a positive experience with an agent in the past, you may want to contact use them again. Data taken from the NAR shows that 39% of sellers rely on a referral to choose their agents, while 22% of buyers used a Realtor that they had a used before. Out of sellers, 16% interviewed at least two agents and 18% spoke with three or more agents before making their decisions.

Other places to find a real estate agent include the local newspaper, Sunday open houses, driving around the neighborhood looking for signs, walking into the local real estate office, searching the Internet and using employer relocation company services.

Qualities of a Good Agent

  • Knowledge of the local market and market trends.
  • Does their own showings or uses an assistant.
  • Uses the latest technology.
  • Holds professional designations and specialties. What this means is the agent has taken extra education and training.
  • What type of technology do they use?
  • What professional designations or specialties do they hold? This means they have taken additional training.
  • Are they members of the National Association of Realtors? NAR members are held to a higher standard and a code of ethics.

When you have a good real estate agent, they are always putting their client’s needs before their own. A good negotiator is crucial and someone who is outgoing, social, has a great reputation and works for a reputable company are other characteristics to look for when choosing an agent. Also being able to overcome obstacles that may arise and being a good problem solver is a must.

Having the right agent representing you can make a huge difference in your real estate transaction experience. A good real estate agent will help save you money and time and make sure your real estate experience is a positive one. Above all, it is important to choose someone that you like and trust because you will probably be working together for at least a few months. If you feel confident that you can rely on your agent’s advice and that the agent is providing you with current information about market conditions, new listings, comparable homes that have sold and real estate trends in your area, then you know you have chosen the right person for your real estate needs.

Why ‘Setup’ Properties Erode Consumer Confidence

Earlier, I read an article by Kenneth Harney about ‘setup’ properties or ‘pinball’ homes that I felt compelled to write a response to. I found the article through Barry Cunningham, who posted a link to it over on Google+ (thanks Barry). The original article I read can be found here on the LA times site, and here if you prefer the Boston Herald. Although I promptly shared the article I still don’t feel that I said enough about this practice, there’s more to get off my chest.

Along with all the talk about what’s happening with property prices, and when values will start to go up again, there’s a real need to infuse some confidence in the industry in order for it to properly recover. IF the industry is to kick off again, we need people to buy houses – and not just investors and other businesses either – but actual home owners, owner occupiers. These buyers are the real key to the housing market, and they are the true barometer of where the industry is in terms of its recovery or otherwise.

Display Lounge © by mikecogh

So when I read about agents who have a property listed at an unrealistic price, and then use it to make the prices of other homes in the area seem reasonable (or even low), it smacks of bad business practice. It’s bad because it’s dishonest. It’s dishonest to the owner of the ‘setup’ property, to the prospective buyers, and the owners of other properties in the area. For the industry to regain its reputation and success, this practice must stop.

What matters here is the conduct of the agent. It’s the need for real estate professionals to look beyond the immediate sale, and take a longer term view of their profession, of their industry. They need to be prepared to do the morally correct thing and assign the correct price to start with. Naturally there will always be difficult clients who will insist on an over-inflated listing price – but that is their issue, not the agent’s. Why accept the listing to begin with if you are not going to try and sell it? If the plan is to use the property to hold up as a property not to buy, are you really fulfilling your obligations to the owner of that property?

I would really like to see listing agents be more careful in what properties they list – and the prices at which they are listed. Consumer confidence is a fickle thing, and is what will drive any recovery in the future. Using one over-priced property as a ‘pinball’ property in order to sell others in the neighbourhood at a similar price is not only unprofessional – it may also go against your obligations as an agent, depending on the jurisdiction. This practice is most certainly morally wrong – and is damaging to the industry as a whole.

Why Real Estate Professionals Should Forget About SEO

Breathe easy, SEO for real estate websites just got a whole lot easier… These days, almost all real estate professionals will recognise the importance of the internet in their business. Having a website of your own is meant to not only showcase you as a person, and your business as a brand, but also showcase your listings and be a marketing mouth-piece. In a lot of ways, social networking became a shouting match too, a bad habit among a lot of realtors.

The idea of SEO was also to rank well in the search engines (especially in Google’s results) so as to maximize the exposure of the site, and therefore increase the web traffic that flows through to the site. The way to do this was through SEO – and plenty of people pay good money to firms and consultants to do it right. But that’s all about to change in a big way, and we need to change with it.

seo punishment © by Sean MacEntee

SEO for dinosaurs

SEO used to be as simple as ‘the site with the most links wins’ – then it evolved to a hotchpotch of different factors, including keyword use, authority links, alt tags on images, meta tags and riding high on a social networking buzz. That’s all over – dead and all but buried.

Gone are the days of paying a bunch of people to write hundreds of backlinking articles to post on different article hosting websites like Ezine Articles and Squidoo. It’s just not worth it. Your site does not get any benefit from it at all. Stop paying people for links to your website too – not only is the benefit questionable, but you’re likely to be hit with a penalty which will see your site vanish from the search engine results.

Just like in the real world, you have to make it in the real estate industry on your own terms – by hard, consistent work, a good character and a sunny disposition. I’ll explain why later – but first: why is SEO changing to a point where it is almost unrecognisable from what it was?

SEO reborn

Google has been constantly changing its search algorithm since its inception, and last year’s ‘tweaks’ (called Panda) caused massive earthquakes and near panic in the SEO community. The changes were implemented progressively – and are not over yet. In fact just recently, another upcoming algorithm update was announce in which Google said it would be penalizing sites that were ‘over-optimized’.

The point of this is to apparently to level the playing field – to even things out between the big companies that spent a whole lot on SEO type activities and produced content of little value, and the little guys and gals that produce great stuff but don’t allocate much to SEO beyond simple on-page stuff.

That’s great news really… it means that we will see better, more relevant stuff come up to the higher results when we search. This is important, because as most will know, around 40% of the clicks on a search result go through to the first listing. There’s a way of improving that figure – but we’ll get to that in a minute.

So everything’s changing and SEO for real estate websites will never be the same again… but what will the new world of SEO look like and how can we have our sites rank well?

The brave new world of SEO

In a word – the way to succeed in SEO for your websites these days and into the future is… (drum roll) Google.

It doesn’t matter if you like Google or hate them – totally irrelevant. Remember you are running a business, and your own emotions really have no place in business decision making. Make  smart business decision to play along – because that is the way to get solid results for your site.

Google’s release of Google+ last year changed everything. What I will say is that you need to go and sign up for Google+. It is a watershed for the way that Google looks at the internet and the way we see what’s there.

The most important part of all is the release of what’s called the ‘rel=author’ tag. This is something that is written into the coding of a web page that tells Google who the author of a post or article is. The thing about this tag is that it will point Google to the G+ profile of the author – which tells Google a lot about both the author and the page their content is on.

The more people that have the author in their circles (or are following them), the higher that author’s credibility – and the higher the post will rank. This has been borne out in tests (links to come). The amount of +1 (or plusses) that your site’s content receives will also result in a rise in the rankings.

New Google Plus Logo © by AJC1

If your mind’s not boggling right now with the possibilities of it all, give it a minute… By contributing to the Google+ community in a constructive and honest way, you will raise the number of people that have you in circles – and if you implement the ‘rel=author’ tag, then you will also raise the position your content occupies in the search engine results.

What does this mean for real estate sites and SEO?

What this whole shift means is that we’re essentially going back to the old days of marketing – where reputation is everything. Be honest, approachable, constructive and above all trust-worthy. Like some are saying, you won’t rank well if the community does not perceive you as being trustworthy, and Google is fast becoming a search engine where reputation ranks well.

Another interesting thing is that G+ profiles and posts are starting to appear in search results. In fact on of my posts which received a whole bunch of +1s outranks my most popular post on Real Estate Mad! I’m not for one second saying to abandon your websites because they are archaic (but there are some who say that G+ alone will be enough in the future for an online presence). Be aware that your G+ posts will show in search results.

Get started today

Get yourself a Google+ profile, circle at least 300 people to get some content flowing in your stream (you’ll know what I mean), and take part in the conversation. Comment on other people’s posts, +1 things you like and contribute your own posts that mean something. Don’t use G+ as just another marketing mouthpiece (read my open letter for more on that), but rather be a positive person, part of the community – and there’s a good variety of great real estate people around.

All you need is a G+ profile linked to your website, and an ability to post regularly on both. Ideally you’ll do this every day – but that’s not always possible, and that’s fine. I do suggest being more active on G+ though – as the more active you are, the more people will circle you, and the more circlers you have, the better you will rank.

The secret to becoming a successful real estate agent with a good online presence these days is not shrouded in secrecy, and you don’t need to be a web whiz or SEO super-geek to succeed. You can’t avoid these changes – they are already happening – and it’s always better to ride the wave than be pounded by it. Embrace change.

Too technical for you? Need more? Read this…

If you need a little bit of extra help:

  • If you can’t get your head around how Google+ works, read Guy Kawasaki’s book ‘What the Plus‘ – it’s invaluable and a steal at only $2.99.
  • For a nice, easy way to implement the rel=author tag on WordPress sites, with support for multiple authors, check out this awesome plugin from Fraser Cain.

This post was very much a stream of consciousness effort – and I have likely missed a few key points I wanted to make – so I’ll probably make some edits. All comments and contributions welcomed!

Real Estate Appraisal Training Requirements

To start your real estate appraisal training, you will need to complete some minimum hours of education, experience and examination depending on the level of appraiser established by the AQP Board of The Appraisal Foundation pursuant to provisions Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA).

 

Minimum Real Estate Appraisal Training Education and Experience 

The following is a list of the minimum education and experience hours under FIRREA:

Hours Experience
Appraiser training 75 hours Experience is subject to direct supervision by a certified and supervising appraiser who is in good standing
Licensed residential real property appraiser 150 hours Experience is subject to 2,000 hours during no less than 12 months
Certified residential real property appraiser 200 hours Experience is subject to 2,500 hours during no less than 24 months
Certified general real property appraiser 300 hours Experience is subject to 3,000 hours during no less than 30 months

 

Each state may have additional educational and experience requirements so it is imperative that you check with your local state regulatory agency to find out their requirements. You can join the Appraisal Institute as an associate member until you become a practicing member. Courses can be taken from the Appraisal Institute.

Courses

Real Estate Appraisal Training
Real Estate © by wvhomes

Trainee courses include classes in the basic principles of appraisal, appraisal procedures and a USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) course.  The residential appraiser courses include market analysis, valuations and cost approach, the highest and best use, residential comparison approach, income approach, and writing reports and case studies. The certified residential courses include finance, statistics, advanced residential applications and report writing.

The certified general courses include finance, statistics, marketing analysis, site valuation, cost approach, sales comparison approach and information regarding general appraising. The courses prepare you for your state examination. Information about the Appraisal Institute can be accessed at their website at http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/education/state_aprv.aspx. In order to take your state examination, you will have to contact your state regulatory agency for more information and registration.

Continuing Education

Practicing members of the Appraisal Institute must complete 100 hours of continuing education every five years and associate members must complete 70 hours of containing education every five years. The Appraisal Institute Education Trust also provides scholarships that you can apply for to pay for your classes and education. For more information, you can contact the Appraisal Institute at their website at http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/education/scholarship.aspx. 

Universities and Colleges

There are undergraduate degree and master degree programs in real estate and real estate appraising that you can take at various colleges and universities both through onsite classes at the college or university and online programs. For instance, the John Hopkins Carey Business School offers a Master of Science degree. Students learn about real estate investment and development, management and sustainable real estate. For more information about the program, you can visit their website at: http://carey.jhu.edu/our_programs/MS_Programs/full_time/FT_msre/index.html

To find out about other programs in your area, contact your local university or college.Real estate appraisal training enables a student to complete the educational requirements necessary to become a real estate appraiser and to fulfill statutory continuing educational requirements. Real estate appraisers are in high demand. Only an appraisal prepared by a certified real estate appraiser is recognized as a valid appraisal by a lender. The lender is the one who orders the appraisal when the borrower obtains financing.

The appraisal tells the lender the home’s value.While the buyer/borrower does not have much say in which appraiser is selected, it is important to request an appraiser that is familiar with the area so the property appraises correctly. If the home does not appraise, the lender will not loan the borrower the funds to buy a home, refinance or take out a second mortgage. Buyers, sellers and Realtors should all be familiar with appraisal education and experience requirements and how appraisals are used in real estate transactions.

Real Estate Agent Education Options

Real estate agent education is required in order to obtain a license and to maintain and renew a license. There are real estate schools that offer new and renewal license courses accredited by each state agency’s real estate licensing division or board. Since each state has different regulations regarding Realtor education, it is recommended that you check with your state agency regarding educational requirements. Besides statutory required educational courses, there are continuing educational course that are available to Realtors through real estate professional organizations and Realtor Boards to obtain professional designations. Colleges and universities offer undergraduate and master’s programs in various aspects of real estate and property management.

Real Estate Agent Education
Agents get ready to learn! © by Phil Sexton

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), is the largest real estate professional organization that allows only its members to use the designation Realtor. The NAR provides continuing education through their NAR School of Professional Development and Continuing Education Program. Classes are available online as well. Many classes are offered through REBAC, which is the largest world organization of real estate professionals which focuses on education and specialized training for Buyer’s Agents. You can find out about classes offered through REBAC at their website at http://rebac.net/apply_now.cfm or by visiting the NAR website at http://www.realtor.org/education/realtor_university/homepage.

 

Types of Real Estate Agent Education

Realtors need to understand the different types of real estate business that they are conducting depending on their client’s needs. For instance, there are educational course for Realtors regarding commercial and industrial real estate sales, land development, property management and appraisal, urban planning, green and sustainable real estate and other aspects of the real estate business. Courses offered through Realtor Boards are generally one or two days. There are approximately 20 designations that a Realtor can earn, including the most popular ones such as ABR (accredited Buyer’s Representative), SFR (Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource), (SRES) Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) Designation Course. To find out what classes your Board offers, you should contact them or visit their website.

 

Value of Earning Designations

Realtors who earn additional professional designations have are regarded as having a higher degree of knowledge. The designation tells their clients that they have taken the time to obtain additional education and training. The ABR course prepares professionals to represent buyers. Upon completing the course, real estate agents have three years to meet the requirements of submitting either a copy of the signed contract or the buyer agency agreement verifying that they have completed five real estate transactions representing buyers. The SFR course prepares professionals for representing clients that own distressed properties and are facing foreclosure or must sell their property with a short sale.

Professionals will learn the steps to starting and completing a short sale transaction as well as familiarity with the forms and procedures that lender’s may require. This course is also offered online. THE SRES designation course is helpful for professionals that represent adults 50+. It addresses the concerns of seniors regarding adult living and senior housing communities, financing options such as reverse mortgages, using pensions and 401(K’s)  to purchase real estate and much more. Upon completion, professionals are eligible for membership with the SRES council.

You must be a NAR member in good standing to join the SRES Council. Green and sustainable courses teach real estate professionals how to use green products in their business, give information about certifications for green homes, energy efficiency and green constructions materials. These are just a few of the many courses that are available to Realtors. Depending on your interests, you should be able to find a course that meets your needs.

 

Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities also have undergraduate and master’s programs in real estate and real estate property management. Some programs are available online. Check with your local college or university to find out what programs are available in your area.

It is important for real estate agents to continue their real estate agent education throughout their real estate career. This is in order to keep ahead of industry changes and up-to-date on real estate laws, proposed legislation, industry practices and procedures and technology. This broad base of real estate education allows them to compete and grow their business as well as service their clients in order to help them make wise financial decisions regarding the sale and purchase of real estate.

A Rundown Of The Top Real Estate Websites

When you are looking for information about today’s real estate market trends and home sales, you can find this information at most of the top real estate websites. These include Zillow, RealtyTrac, Trulia, Yahoo, Zip Realty, Realtor.com and the National Association of Realtors. These websites provide information for buyers, sellers, renters, real estate agents and other professionals including real estate market statistics, data and trends.

Information Available on Top Real Estate Websites

The information you can obtain on these top websites includes list of homes offered for sale and rent by state, city and neighborhood, sold prices, mortgage rates, list of Realtors and mortgage brokers and lenders, local information including demographics, schools, real estate trends, foreclosures and much more depending on which site you choose.

Zillow (http://www.zillow.com/)

Zillow offers the following information:

  • Homes for sale including for sale by owner properties
  • Homes for rent
  • Owner and agent rental and sale advertising
  • Open houses
  • List of foreclosures
  • Home sale prices
  • Mortgage rates, calculator, list of mortgage brokers and information about mortgage products
  • Advice for home buyers and sellers including answers and questions
  • Find a Realtor information
  • Local information including demographics, schools and market overview and statistics

 

RealtyTrac (http://www.realtytrac.com)

RealtyTrac offers the following information:

  • Lists of homes for sale and commercial listings
  • Statistics and market data
  • Foreclosure homes for sale and data regarding foreclosures
  • Finder for Realtors, contractors, mortgage brokers and other real estate services
  • Discussions and other home buying and selling information

 

Trulia (http://www.trulia.com/)

Trulia offers the following information:

  • Lists of homes for sale and rent
  • Mortgage information and calculator
  • Neighborhood statistics and trends
  • Information regarding finding an agent
  • Advice and questions and answers

 

Yahoo (http://realestate.yahoo.com)

Yahoo offers the following information

  • List of homes for rent and for sale, including foreclosures
  • Sales prices and market trends with charts and graphs
  • Mortgage rates and payment calculator
  • Financial resources
  • Home buying guides and advice
  • News and glossary
  • Agent and mortgage broker advertising

 

Zip Realty (http://www.ziprealty.com/)

Zip Realty offers the following information:

  • Find a home for sale
  • Find an agent
  • Advice about home buying and selling

 

Realtor.com (http://www.realtor.com/)

Realtor.com offers the following information:

  • Listings of homes and rentals
  • Find a Realtor information
  • Mortgage and finance information and links to getting a mortgage quote
  • Moving information including locating movers and storage companies
  • Decorating ideas

 

National Association of Realtors (http://www.realtor.org/home_buyers_and_sellers/)

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers the following information:

  • Market conditions by region
  • Information for home buyers and sellers
  • Realtor benefits and information

 

Top Real Estate Websites
website button © by Margaret Ornsby

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is an organization that Realtors belong to. Members must follow the NAR code of ethics and standards. Only agents that belong to the NAR can use the designation Realtor, which means that the Realtor is bound to a higher code of ethics than an agent that is not a member. The NAR is active in lobbying Congress and testifying before congress on a variety laws that affect homeownership and the real estate industry and profession.

Real estate websites have become more popular as buyers use them to start their home searches, to find a Realtor and obtain mortgage quotes and information. According to the NAR, most buyers begin searching for their homes on the Internet first because it offers them the convenience of being able to obtain information instantly from their home or office 24/7, and allows them to narrow down their search to the type of home, neighborhood and price range   before contacting a Realtor. This saves buyers and Realtors time and money as well as avoids wasting the seller’s time and their agent’s time. By the time a buyer who has visited real estate websites makes an appointment to view a home, they are serious about considering it as one that they may wish to make an offer on.

Sellers use top real estate websites sites as well to find out about the competition in their area, to make decisions about pricing their homes, refinancing, to find an agent to sell their homes, moving information and for foreclosure assistance.  Realtors use them to advertise their listings and promote their business brands to obtain more buyers and sellers as well as to find out industry information and the latest news and trends.

Mortgage brokers and lenders use them to advertise their services to buyers and existing homeowners who are interested in purchasing real estate, refinancing or taking out a second mortgage. Real estate websites benefit everyone looking for accurate information quickly that they can rely upon in making personal and business decisions regarding real estate and financing.

How To Become A Real Estate Agent In California

For those who dream of a real estate career in the sun, read on to quickly learn how to become a real estate agent in California. There are a few basic steps that you need to take in order to become a licensed real estate agent in California, but they are relatively straight forward, and the process is quite simple. The first thing that you need to be aware of is the requirement, as in other jurisdictions, to complete a criminal history check, including supplying fingerprints. This is just one way that the California Department of Real Estate maintains the regulation of a professional real estate sector.

how to become a real estate agent in California
beach-house © by miss-britt

How to become a real estate agent in California: Step 1

Do a few short courses. These must be college level courses, but don’t let that scare you – there are people around who you’d be surprised that they even passed! You don’t need to go to college either to qualify to sit the exam, there are accredited schools that offer the level of education needed to qualify. The classes you must take are ‘Real Estate Principles’, ‘Real Estate Practice’, plus one other related course which will depend on your area of interest.

Of course you will have to know your stuff before you attempt the exam, but that’s not really much of an issue. There are publications around that are specifically designed to help you pass the exam, I would not worry yourself about it too much. Plenty of people have passed it before you, so the odds are good. I encourage you to find a good, reliable source of information though, do not rely on information where you are unsure where it has come from.

Alternatively, consider enrolling in an additional course, which incorporates materials plus a system of instruction. Some that I have seen even offer a “no pass, no pay” system of enrolments. This seems very ambitious, but if you are in the position where you need a little assistance or confidence to ensure that you pass, then consider those courses – keep in mind that they will cost you a little extra, most come in at about $300.

Please also note that if you are currently a member of the California State Bar you are exempt from providing evidence of completion of these required courses. If you are one of these lucky people, go straight to the top of the class and start studying for the exam.

Step 2: schedule your real estate exam

Once you feel you know your stuff, you will be ready to schedule a time to sit the exam. To do so you will need to complete the application form, and pay the application fee, which is $60 at present. The time frame for the scheduling of your real estate exam for the state of California will depend on the current processing time. The usual wait time from the date of submission of the application for to the scheduled exam is usually around 6 weeks though.

Step 3: complete your license application

Once you have passed your exam you will be sent a license application form. It is at this point that you must provide your fingerprints for identification verification and criminal history checks. You must also provide proof of your residence in the state of California, or alternatively complete of the applicable reciprocal recognition forms for out of state residents.

It is most important to remember that the greatest barrier to becoming a real estate agent in California is being dishonest in your application. What regulators are striving to achieve and maintain is the creation of a body of professionals with integrity. Once you have satisfied the educational requirements and have passed the exam, the beginning of a career in real estate in California is just around the corner. If you have any other questions about getting your real estate licence, California Department of Real Estate staff are well trained and happy to help. Good luck!

Who Do Real Estate Agents Work For?

While most people approach a real estate agent when they are looking to purchase real estate, it pays to remember who real estate agents work for. It is easy to think that they are there to help you find a property to buy, but truth be told, that’s not it at all. Real estate agents have a very specific job, and it is to represent the vendor in a real estate transaction.

So while you may approach a real estate agent looking for a good deal, the fact is that it is their job to get the highest possible price for listed properties for the current owners – not to help you to bag a bargain. If you really want a little assistance in finding a property to purchase, then there are people whose job it is to represent the buyer – buyers agents. I like buyers agents because they do all the heavy lifting in looking for real estate and present you with a shortlist of properties that fit the brief you have provided to them. All that is left for you to do is to inspect them and see if you like them.

who do real estate agents work for
Sunny Day View © by cletch

Too many people go looking for real estate in agents’ windows and half expect the agent to find a good deal for them. Please, remember that this is not what real estate agents actually do. Their job is to present a home on behalf of a vendor and to sell it for the best possible terms (and highest price). In contrast, a buyers agent works on behalf of the buyer (that’s be you) and secures a deal for the best possible terms (and lowest price). Real estate work often conflicts with the work of buyers agents, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The work of real estate agents is after all, completely separate. If anything, they should work closely together for their mutual benefit (and they often do).

So next time you are out shopping for real estate and listening carefully to what the real estate agent says, remember who they work for – it’s not you! This is one of the first things taught when you learn how to become a real estate agent. Apart from the legalities of property law and the practicalities of contracts, inspections and commissions, it all comes down to serving the vendor – because they are the ones who are paying the bills.