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Have You Found Your Real Estate Specialty?

August 25th, 2014

Looking for a way to brand yourself as more than just a traditional real estate sales agent? Real Estate designations and certifications can help you find your niche. They’re the perfect way to show potential clients that you’ve taken the extra time to learn more about a specific area of the real estate market. What area of expertise you choose depends on the clientele you want to attract and how you differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.

Check out the learning tools and resources in our toolbox below to help you select a designation that suits your interests and growth in your real estate career.

Real Estate Expert Toolbox

Still have questions?
Contact us at 1-866-739-7277 and CustomerCare@RealEstateExpress.com so we can help you out.

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Generating Successful Sales Leads

July 11th, 2014

Even the best salesperson fails when they have no one to hear their pitch. When most people start in real estate they begin with the easy-picks: friends and family. But, to make your business grow, you have to move outside of that circle. This is where many real estate agents fail – they are not sure how to keep gathering contacts.

Some sales programs will argue that it is not the quantity of leads, but the quality of them that counts. In many ways that is correct, but you need to have a large group of contacts before you can determine where on the ‘quality’ scale they land. Some agents pay for leads – which can be dubious if you cannot guarantee the source. But any agent can use a multitude of free and relatively cheap methods to grow your circle.

1. Attend Community Events. When was the last time you volunteered at a community fundraiser or event? You do not have to spend money to sponsor an event, just give some time as a volunteer. You will open your acquaintance circle and, as a natural part of introductions, can let people know you are a great agent who is always looking for referrals.

2. Use your Facebook. If you are just posting your listings on Facebook, you are doing it wrong. Your agent site is for your listings; use Facebook to get people to share what you post. Post pics of funny houses, interesting facts, some of those crazy quizzes – anything that will get your current friends to share your content with others. Facebook is where you can show who you are and let people see why they should work with you.

3. Be an expert on real estate sites. If you visit Trulia or other real estate sites, you will see the same agents answering all the questions. When the people who visit those sites are looking for an agent, guess who they are going to choose? It is not hard to get signed up and really broadens your market.

4. Google yourself. Many of the sites that pop up (look past the first 5 listings) are real estate information sites where you can post your basic contact information and a link to your website. As you will see, many of these sites have lists – usually from the real estate commission – of licensed agents, but most agent information is blank. As long as the site is not charging you, get your name out there and network.

5. Gather on your website. If you are not offering some sort of free property listing updates or market advice on your website, you are missing a lot of potential clients. Make sure you site has a ‘More Information’ feature which allows you to collect at least a name and one contact method (usually email). Make sure you quickly reply with the advice or listings you have promised.

6. Five foot rule. This is for all the social agents out there. Are you talking to anyone who is within 5 feet of you? Don’t carry a stack of business cards and force them upon strangers, but talk to those strangers around you. Simple conversation can often lead to introductions where you can slip in what you do. Then have that business card on hand.

If you are truly prospecting in a meaningful way, you will soon have a vast collection of potential leads. Make sure your prospecting time does not go to waste by having an organized lead collection. Many different commercial lead management software companies exist –some of them more geared towards real estate than others. However if you are looking for a free method, take 10 – 15 minutes to watch a YouTube video on Excel or Google Docs. The
advantage of using Google Docs is that you can access your list from a variety of internet devices, not just one laptop or computer. Using either method allows you the ability to easilyadd qualifiers for each lead then sort by qualifier, name, address, etc..

Want to find out if you have what it takes to be a Real Estate Agent or Broker?

About Tom DavidsonTom Davidson is Vice President of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.

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How Much Money Can You Make in Real Estate?

July 7th, 2014

Many people are attracted to a career in real estate because of the financial perks. There are few barriers to entering the profession and starting your business is relatively low-cost. It’s one of the few areas where professional-level income can be earned without 4-9 years of (potentially expensive) post-high school education. It’s a profession where you are paid in direct relationship to your skills, effort and production. So there is no income ceiling, but also no floor. You hire or fire yourself each day by what you choose to do.

Here’s the big question everyone wants to know: Exactly how much money can I make in real estate?

Our answer? Well, it depends.

There are a lot of factors that influence your potential income in real estate.
These are the most important:
• Whether you work part-time or full-time.
• How long you’ve been in the game.
• How much you are willing to commit your time and resources.
• How you use your real estate license.
• What your commission split is with your Broker.
• Whether or not you have a solid business plan and are focused on a goal.

Are you working part-time or full time?
Your income largely depends on how much time you invest in your career, and this is especially true with real estate. With few exceptions, full-time real estate agents make more money than part-time agents. If you’re only working part-time, you’re likely not making the volume of contacts, leads, or commissions that full-time agents are.

The catch? Starting out as a full-time agent is tough! Making connections, building momentum, and turning a sizable profit simply takes time. There will likely be months where you spend money on your business and receive little to no income in return. Having savings or other investments to act as a cushion while you’re getting started can be a great help.

Ultimately, you have to do what is right for you. One of the biggest perks about a career in real estate is the flexibility and there is a unique path to success for each individual. If your lifestyle and finances don’t make sense for starting out as a full-time agent, then you should consider beginning part-time, at least until you get your feet wet.

How long you’ve been in the field of real estate.
With each year you spend as a real estate professional, you’ll acquire more connections, leads, and skills. In general, the longer you’re in the business, the larger your potential income.

You might not make your ideal income in your first year or so of business, but if you set your income expectations low and create a 5-year plan detailing how to grow your business, you’ll be hitting your profit benchmarks in no time.

A survey done by NAR showed that Realtors in business for more than 16 years earned $70,200 and made 15 transactions. On the contrary, those with three-to-five years earned less than half that amount ($30,100) and had 10 transactions.

Translation: if you commit yourself to working hard and being in the real estate business for the long haul, then it’s probably going to pay off. You have to find the right way for you to enter the field, push beyond the first-year threshold, and toward the income you deserve.

How much you are willing to commit your time and resources.
This really isn’t about part-time or full-time. You have to be willing to devote both your time and resources (money $) into this career, whether you are going at it full or part-time. Have you ever heard that saying, “You have to spend money to make money”? Well, a career in real estate is certainly no exception. In order to build your business you have to spend the time and money marketing and establishing yourself in the market. You will need to invest in a website, blog, yard signs, business cards, postcards, flyers, cell phone with unlimited everything, MLS fees, association fees, advanced designations, lockbox fees…the list goes on. Bottom line, it takes time and money to establish yourself in this business.

How you use your real estate license.
Real estate agents make money when they take part in the sale of a property. Many people don’t realize that there are several ways to use a real estate license and make great money beyond the traditional listing and selling agent roles. Many agents decide to specialize as well.

Here are some ways that you can use your real estate license:
• Listing Agent: Listing homes for sellers.
• Buyer’s Agent: Working primarily with people looking to buy a house.
• Referral Agent: Get paid a fee for referring clients to other agents.
• FSBO Market: List FSBO (for sale by owner) properties for homeowners who cannot sell.
• Foreclosure Market: Buy and sell homes owned by banks and government lenders (FHA, VA).
• Short Sales: Listing and selling homes where debt exceeds value.
• BPO’s: Prepare broker price opinions for lenders and asset managers, which are detailed reports similar to appraisals, used to value a home.
• Property Management: Manage rental properties for investors and home owners.
• Commercial Real Estate: Typically work for a large firm for salary and/or commission.
• Investor: Invest in real estate, fix-and-flip properties and save money on commission by buying and selling these homes yourself!
• Start your own brokerage: Once you’ve held your license for the minimum amount of time specified by your state, get your broker’s license, open your own office and collect commissions from agents who work under your license.

Income varies drastically according to license type. In 2013, managing brokers earned $66,300, while the median earnings for agents was $35,000.Brokers make almost double what agents do.

What your commission split is with your employing broker.
Real estate agents get paid on commission when they help someone buy a house or help someone sell a house. Standard commission for an agent is between 5 and 6 percent of the sales price, which is usually split evenly between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent, though sometimes it is split unevenly.

How you split commission with your broker determines how much money you make on each real estate sale. There is no “standard” split. The percentage of the split will vary based on the services and support provided by the broker and the volume of sales that the agent brings in.

Some brokerages also offer a 100% commission split model, in which the agent gets all of the commission for each sale. In exchange, the agent pays a monthly “desk fee” to the broker. This method of compensation is preferred for more experienced agents because, while their costs are capped each month, their income is not.

Percentage split-commission is the prevailing method for REALTOR® compensation, with 68 percent of respondents indicating this method of compensation, similar to past years.

Do you have a goal and a business plan?
This one seems obvious, but your effort truly has a direct effect on your financial returns. Rather than treating real estate as a regular job, you need to be entrepreneurial. Have a business plan and create concrete goals for yourself. Think outside the box and use all the tools at your disposal: websites, social media, professional associations, networking events, special-interest courses to expand your skill set. Going the extra mile makes all the difference.

How long will it take you to make money in real estate?
As we’ve shown, there are a lot of variables that influence your potential income in real estate and there is no way to accurately estimate the time it will take for you to hit your financial goals. The reality is that a career in real estate is like running a business; it takes time, effort, and financial investment to become profitable and successful. Your real estate income will depend on how quickly you earn clients and get referrals.

The latest numbers.

According to a recent survey done by the National Association of Realtors, median gross income increased to $47,700 in 2013, which is a 9.6% rise from 2012. Income and sales volume for real estate professionals jumped in 2013 for the third year in a row. (This reflects the 11.5% increase in home prices last year.)

• These numbers are based on a survey of 6,462 NAR members, and members of NAR make up only half of the estimated 2 million active real estate licensees in the US. The data is also skewed because the incomes for the large number of active part-time licensees bring down the “median gross income” figure in the report. But, while the data is not comprehensive, it can help us paint a picture of who is making the most money in real estate and how they’re doing it.

Want to find out if you have what it takes to be a Real Estate Agent or Broker?

About Tom DavidsonTom Davidson is Vice President of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.

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What to Look for in a Real Estate School- Online vs Classroom

June 27th, 2014

If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in real estate, you’ll need to take numerous hours of real estate education and pass a state licensing exam before you can start selling homes. The required number of hours and the course content may differ by state, but these qualifying education courses are necessary and important for your start in real estate. The courses will be an investment of time and money, and the knowledge you gain will be the foundation for your career in real estate. Because it’s so important, your education should meet your personal needs and lifestyle.

The two most popular ways to complete the required courses are (1) online classes and (2) in-classroom, in-person classes. To help you decide which option is best for you, we’ll walk you through the general pros and cons of online vs. in-classroom courses.

Online Courses. Why do students love them?
• Flexibility. People like online courses for the same reason that they want to pursue a career in real estate: the flexible, self-made schedule. Most online courses are designed so that you can go through course material whenever you find some spare time, wherever you are—at home, at the office, waiting for your kid to get out of soccer practice, etc. Online education allows you to break the material up into smaller sections and spread it out over time instead of sitting in a classroom for 4+ hours at a time.
• Save money and time. Online courses tend to be much less expensive than in-classroom courses. On top of that, taking your courses online saves you the cost of traveling to the nearest classroom location, the time you’d have to take off work, and the cost of whatever else you might need to take courses in-person (snacks, a babysitter, coffee, etc.).
But, alas, there are some drawbacks of taking online courses:
• Flexibility. The greatest benefit of taking online courses—the ability to choose when and where you study—can also be the biggest obstacle. When you don’t have a set time to show up to the class session, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to go through the course material. (Because there is always something important to do in the spare half-hours you find throughout the day, and it’s tough to prioritize your real estate education material.)
• Lack of interaction. When compared to classes taken in-person, online courses can lack opportunities for students to network with their peers or ask professors in-depth questions about the course material.

Online courses are for you! So, you’re good at prioritizing, you’re not a procrastinator, you’ve got a solid Internet connection, and you want to start your coursework now. Before you commit to a certain online education provider, ask these questions:
• Are instructors available to answer questions while you read course material online? Are they only available by e-mail? Are they nowhere to be found?
• Does the online course have end-of-chapter quizzes or reviews to help improve retention (and make the final exam that much easier)?
• Is the online course flexible so that you can complete it any time and at your own pace?
• Are course materials available in multiple formats (digital, print)? Is the course compatible with the operating system on your computer? Is it tablet or iPad friendly?
• Is the course interface user-friendly and easy to navigate?
• How long do you have to complete the online course?

Not convinced? Maybe taking courses in a classroom, in-person is for you.

Here’s why some students prefer to take their classes in-person, in a classroom:
• Social interaction. Attending courses in a classroom gives you the ability to meet your professor, ask him/her questions, and take part in class discussions, which often go beyond the material in the course. You can ask an educated professional about his/her experiences, opinions, tricks, tips, horror stories, and big wins. The classroom is also a great place to network with peers in your chosen profession.
• Face-to-face learning. Reading the computer screen isn’t for everyone, and in-person, on-site classes may better suit your learning style.
• Scheduled meeting time. If the unstructured nature of online courses isn’t your thing, then having a set place and time to attend class might make it easier for you to complete your coursework and get that certification. Classes are usually offered in the day or evening and run between 4 to 8 hours per session.
Some drawbacks of in-classroom courses:
• Lack of flexibility. Courses taken in the classroom don’t have the same anytime/anywhere freedom as online courses. You can’t complete coursework on your own time or on your comfy couch. And, rather than jumping online and getting started, you have to wait for your next scheduled classroom session.
• Potential cost of travel and time. Depending on your location and your chosen real estate school’s offerings, you may have to make a lengthy commute to attend class. This will eat into your wallet and the time that you might otherwise spend working and turning a profit.

Okay. We’ve broken down the basic course-delivery options for you: online and classroom. But you can’t enroll in a course with just any education provider, because all schools and courses are not created equal. The quality of course material, availability of customer service, and general fun-factor varies greatly across education providers.

The last thing you want to do is pay for your education and end up disappointed with your investment, so check into your real estate school before you commit!

Ask these questions:
• Does the education provider have a good BBB rating?
• Do they have great recommendations and reviews online and from your peers?
• Does the school have high exam pass rates in your state?
• Does the school offer exam preparation?
• What is the total cost? The cost of your education may include tuition, exam preparation, course materials, travel expenses (for in-person courses), and a passing guarantee (if allowed in your state).
• Does the school offer payment plans?

If you take the time to choose the right real estate school and course format for you, then you should come away more informed, more prepared for a successful career, and ready to pass the state exam.

Ready to get started in your real estate career? RealEstateExpress.com online school offers all of the conveniences of online courses as well as highly-rated, state-approved courses and pre-licensing exams. Get started today at RealEstateExpress.com or call 1-866-739-7277.

Want to find out if you have what it takes to be a Real Estate Agent or Broker?

About Tom DavidsonTom Davidson is Vice President of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.

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