Posts Tagged ‘realtor’

What Do the Letters After Your Name Mean?

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Over the years you’ve probably received a few business cards from real estate agents, or have seen their ads in newspapers or online. Most agents who have been in the business for awhile have several letters or acronyms after their names. Have you ever wondered what they mean?

In addition to belonging to organizations such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and local organizations like the Iowa Associate of Realtors (IAR) and the West Central Iowa Board of Realtors (WCIBR), real estate agents in Iowa are required to take 36 hours of continuing education classes every 3 years. As part of this education, most agents will acquire certificates or designations relating to the industry.

Some of the most common designations include:

GRI- Graduate Realtor Institute — Developed for members of the National Association of REALTORS® and offered through State REALTOR® Associations, the GRI program includes 90 hours of coursework on topics from marketing and servicing listed properties to real estate law.

CRS- Certified Residential Specialist – Offered by the Council of Residential Specialists, this course requires 60-90 hours of classroom instruction in a variety of real estate topics as well as field experience working with Buyers and Sellers.

ABR- Accredited Buyer’s Representative – Developed by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Countil (REBAC), this designation involves a 2 day intensive course, as well as one elective class and actual experience with Buyers in the field.

e-PRO- Developed ten years ago by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) the e-PRO® certification program teaches members how to effectively use real estate technology to grow their business and help their clients.

CSP- Certified New Home Sales Professional – Offered by the National Association of Home Builders, this course is designed for specialists in new home sales to increase their knowledge and marketability.

There are others, but this gives you a general idea of the education most experienced agents have. We don’t just get our license and do nothing! We stay educated within our industry with required continuing education classes and designations. We strive to learn more, be a better resource and keep you, our clients, informed.

Julie May, ABR, GRI

5 Things that Turn Home Buyers Off…and What a Seller Can Do to Prevent It!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

I’ve been showing a lot of homes recently, and it never ceases to amaze me at how some homes ‘show’ to a potential buyer. Sellers need to understand that they are competing in the marketplace with other properties and their home needs to stand out in order to get an offer. Here are 5 big turn-offs that make a potential homebuyer cringe at the thought of your home, and steps you can take to correct it!

1. Dirty, crowded and smelly houses. Ok so this is a no-brainer, but yet I consistently walk into homes that look like they just had a big party with children and pets and didn’t have time to clean up afterward.

What a seller should do: Only show your house in tip-top shape. Think back on when you looked at homes and how one home stood out above the others. Dishes need to be done and the kitchen counter should be free of clutter. Put the coffee maker, mixer or canister set away for now…even store it in the dishwasher during the day if you have to! Dirty laundry should be off the floor. Rooms need to feel open…take out a piece of furniture from a room and store it if it looks too busy. Remove the figurines and knick-knacks from the desk tops. And above all else, control pet odors. I have had buyers step into a house only to turn around and walk out without even looking at the property because of pet smells. We love our pets, but this is a time that you have to be super-diligent. If you can let someone else watch them while you have your house on the market, great! If not, vacuum often. Clean the backyard and litter box every day. Use Febreeze!

2. Seller in the home. I know you personally want to show the buyer how you just painted your bathroom lime green and talk about how great the neighbors are, but buyers want time alone to talk between themselves or their agent. And what you find lovely about your home may be a negative to them.

What a seller should do: Leave the home for showings. Or step onto the back porch or take a walk around the block (take your pet with you) while a potential homebuyer is looking. If they have questions, they will ask their agent and you will be notified through your agent.

3. Irrational pricing. Yes, you want to make money on your home. And yes, you spent a lot for the new landscaping, you want a trip to Europe and you want to get a certain amount of money from the sale of the house to pay for your new dream home. The next buyer doesn’t care. What they see is an overpriced property in a market where the buyer has their pick of homes. They will just move on to the house down the street that IS priced well.

What a seller should do: Do your research. Get real. Get a few opinions from multiple agents. Hire an agent who knows the neighborhood and the market, and don’t take it personally when they suggest a list price that is lower than you expect. If you owe more than your home will most likely sell for, consider working with your bank on a short sale. If your home needs paint or a new roof, don’t price it the same as the one down the street that doesn’t need those things and still expect it to sell. Go look at homes in your neighborhood and see for yourself what other comparable homes are selling for. Does yours compete? Don’t be tempted to price it higher for awhile thinking that a buyer will lowball you anyway. Buyers are smart and will just wait until the price drops and you become ‘desperate’ for any offer. Price it competitively from the beginning.

4. Photographs of your home. Keep them real. Make them relevant. Buyers want to see the home online before they go see it in person and it should look similar when they do!

What a seller should do: Take a lot of pictures of your home, or have your agent or a professional photographer do it. Post them online. Photos should be clear, in focus, and should show a particular feature of the home. Please don’t show the corner of each bedroom so that the buyer can say, “Yep, that’s a corner!” And don’t take a picture of the laundry room with dirty clothes on the floor, or of the kitchen with food or dishes out. I recently saw a picture in the MLS with eggs in a frying pan on the stove. Obviously breakfast was a priority…not selling their home. Make sure there are plenty of pictures of the outside of the house, the kitchen and the living areas. If you live on a lake or walking path, make sure you have pictures of the views from your yard.

5. Ugly home improvements. Not everyone has the same taste in decorating. I’ve had buyers walk into a property expecting to see these great home improvements that were bragged about in the MLS listing only to have their heart sink when they find that the marble flooring in the bathroom is bright pink, or the new carpet in the living room is a lovely shade of kelly green (and the buyer hates golf). I understand that a seller wants to make these improvements with frugality in mind and maybe the carpet was on sale, but there is a point that you are hindering, not helping the selling process.

What a seller should do: If you’re getting the house ready for sale, check with a professional before making any home improvements. Realtors and Stagers have a good feel for what buyers in the current market are wanting when it comes to colors and materials. They may suggest a few minor improvements that will make a big impact over a major remodel. And remember that neutral finishes will appeal to the largest possible range of buyer tastes.

Now I hope I don’t see these mistakes this weekend when I’m out with buyers! Let’s get them sold!

The Reality of Realtors’ Commissions

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Many people have been asking me lately how a Realtor is paid, and I’ve learned there are a lot of misconceptions. People think all Realtors are rolling in the dough; because after selling, $150, $200, $300 homes they should be, right?


Commission for Realtors varies, everything is negotiable and they take on all of their own expenses. So let’s look at a basic and rough breakdown of the commission for most Realtors.

Take a commission of 7-percent on a $200,000 home, which would be $14,000.

That $14,000 paid by the seller is then split between the Selling Brokerage and the Buyer’s Brokerage.

Each $7000 is further split down to pay franchise fees (Prudential, ReMax, etc.) – about 7-percent on average.

Then, that $6510 is further split down between the Brokerage and the real estate agent – a percentage agreed upon at the time of hire – say a 75-25 percent split with 75 percent going to the agent and 25 percent staying in house at the brokerage.

At the end of the day, this leaves the Realtor with $4883 to take home.

Like I said earlier – everything is negotiable for a Realtor. The fore-mentioned 7-percent commission is variable, the seller’s and buyer’s brokerage do not normally have a 50-50 split and the end result does not consider the cost of open houses, fliers, signs and advertising that go into the sale of a home.

It is often a misconception that a home sold by an unrepresented seller (For Sale By Owner) will be less expensive and the entire sale will make the seller more money in the end. Often, for sale by owner properties are valued above market value and will not sell at all.

A Realtor values the property at a fair market value and does not raise the price based upon the fact that they need to incur commission, so a buyer will not pay more than the home is worth. In fact, every lender requires an appraisal in order to get a loan, and if the home appraises for less than the purchase price, the buyer can go back to the seller and demand the appraised value.

Each Realtor is an independent contractor and gets paid only when they close on a property. That commission check is a gross payment, before taxes. Independent Contractors pay quarterly taxes on their own to the IRS. This, on top of office fees, MLS fees, Board of Realtor fees, continuing education classes, vehicle expenses and errors and omissions insurance can add up to a big chunk of money directly out of a Realtor’s pocket.

So sure it SOUNDS like we make a lot of money, but at the end of the day after business expenses, taxes and splits with our brokers, we work hard for our money just like everyone else.

Omaha! Yes, You Want to Live Here

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

If you have been anywhere outside of the Midwest and you share you’re from Nebraska, you may receive comments like, “Nebraska! Why would you ever live there?”

Many people consider all of Nebraska to be open farm fields – which is not necessarily a bad thing – and don’t even consider the fact that our “big city” of Omaha would be remotely bustling, culturally diverse and full of exciting entertainment. Though we are no NYC, Omaha has a great nightlife, lots of family entertainment and is less affected by the recession than most other cities in the United States.

Nebraska, as a state, was ranked number one on’s Happiness Index, which used unemployment figures, foreclosures and nonmortgage debt to determine a state’s overall financial well being. Also, a smaller city in the Omaha-metro area, Papillion, was ranked last year by money magazine as the third “best place to live” in the United States due to is impressive economic state, housing affordability, top-ranking school system and job availability.

The Greater Omaha area has a population of around 838,855, consisting of Nebraska and Iowa Counties. Omaha is on the smaller side when it comes to cities so its size allows for community development and growth, where its citizens can have a voice and be involved in local events. Also, Nebraska is proud of its rich agricultural history and some of the smaller communities in the metro area have extensive farmland with crops and livestock.

Omaha’s midtown and downtown area are continually developing with restoration of its historical buildings, construction of new restaurants, shops and living communities, along with finding new ways to develop and improve the economic state through boosting entertainment value and tourist sites.

Currently, Omaha is working on improving the value of the College World Series for both the city and all the visitors it brings. Omaha is building two new baseball stadiums, one targeting the college World Series and the other targeting Omaha’s minor league team, The Royals.

In the past, the two events have shared the same venue, Rosenblatt Stadium, located near the Omaha Zoo. In order to foster economic growth and create a new space conducive to the event, Omaha is building a new downtown stadium for the College World Series and a new stadium in Papillion for The Royals.

The downtown stadium is opening opportunities for a community of small businesses and already, there are restaurants and small shops starting to populate the area – creating jobs and revenue for the local economy. The Royals’ stadium will bring economic and job growth to the metro area’s suburbs, as well.

These stadiums have been just one example of Omaha’s commitment to job and revenue development and its absolute refusal to sit and whine about the global recession. Here in Omaha, we are expanding our zoo, building convenient shopping centers with dine-in movie theaters, taking steps to increase tourism and constructing family-focused neighborhoods, entertainment and school districts.

Still not convinced you want to live in Omaha?

There are jobs, Midwest family-values and, of course, affordable homes from downtown to suburbia to everywhere in between. Seriously… you want to move here!

Realtors – Not Your Typical Salesman

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Many people use the terms Realtor and real estate agent interchangeably, not knowing there is a significant difference between the two.

Realtors are members of The National Association of Realtors, and therefore adhere to its Code of Ethics. Most people are not even aware that such a code exists, and in fact consider Realtors to be glorified used car salesmen who are just trying to sell something. But the importance of The Code of Ethics should not be undermined. It enforces lawful and quality practices that clients consider essential when trusting someone to assume the responsibilities related to buying and selling a home. This is not to say that real estate agents do not strive to observe these same practices, but there is no “higher power” that holds them responsible.

If buyers and sellers know and understand this Code of Ethics, they can better understand their Realtor’s practices and establish trust in the quality work they contend with. Clients can ask their Realtor about the Code of Ethics at any time and failure to comply with the code will result in disciplinary action toward the Realtor.

The seventeen articles in the code were created to ensure that the client’s best interest is at heart in all business dealings either with the client or with real estate agents. Duties to customers and clients include disclosure of any fee or financial benefit from a recommended product or service, integrity when dealing with funds and contracts and honesty with all facts relating to property or transactions.

To the general public, Realtors must maintain equal and professional service despite age, race, religion or handicap and be honest about their knowledge base, consistently striving to keep up-to-date on real estate trends. The code also enforces truthful advertising and representation of themselves and their properties.

Finally, the Realtors have a responsibility to one another, outlined in the code as speaking well of one another, respecting the exclusive representation of brokerage relationships of other Realtors and to mediate financial disagreements.

Take a look at a summary of the code yourself. Everything outlined in this document is most likely what the general public hopes and expects of their Realtor or real estate agent.

Knowing a Realtor is held to these standards should give clients a sense of security as they make important decisions concerning their home; and trusting in a Realtor – in their guidance and value of moral law – buyers and sellers should truly know they are in good hands.