Bert’s Blog is dedicated to keeping Florida real estate, mortgage, CAM, appraisal, and other professional licensees up to date on everything from how to get started in the business, to new and upcoming changes that working professionals must be aware of. To learn more about a career in any of these industries, contact our helpful Student Services Representatives at 941-378-2900 or visit us online at www.BertRodgers.com .
Personal safety for licensees: What are you or your brokerage doing about it?
September 8th, 2017 / By Ken Harney
We all know that being a real estate licensee comes with a special set of risks: the very nature of the business means you will occasionally find yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable, like showing an empty house to a total stranger, alone, or driving around a prospect who’s acting a little creepy.
Many of your real estate colleagues experience work situations that make them uneasy and concerned for their own personal safety. The newly-released 2017 NAR Member Safety report, based on an extensive survey involving more than 3,200 licensees, found that although 9 out of 10 Realtors have never been victims of a crime, nearly two of every five – and 44 percent of female agents – have found themselves in circumstances that made them fearful about their own security.
Legislative Minefield Ahead: Congress targets the $250,000/$500,000 Capital Gains Exclusion
July 10th, 2017 / By Ken Harney
Most of your clients probably don’t need a heavy ‘sell’ on the financial and tax benefits of owning a home – after all, if they’re working with you as an agent, they probably know about the mortgage interest deduction and write-offs of property tax payments plus the potential for long-term capital gains.
But here’s an ominous cloud on the horizon: The much-loved $250,000/$500,000 tax-free capital gains exclusion for home sales could be on the legislative chopping block. Neither of the two major tax reform plans now before Congress – the House Republicans’ “Blueprint” and the Trump White House’s overhaul proposal – makes mention of the tax-free exclusion….
Fannie’s DTI Change Opens the Door for First-timers and Millennials
June 19th, 2017 / By Ken Harney
If you work with clients who want to buy a house but are carrying a ton of debt – student loans, car loans, credit cards, etc. – check out this good news: Fannie Mae, the single biggest source of mortgage money in the U.S., is raising its debt-to-income (DTI) ratio ceiling, opening the door to home purchases for potentially thousands of people currently squeezed out.
Starting at the end of July, Fannie Mae’s automated underwriting system will green light applicants whose debt ratios exceed the present limit – 45 percent – moving it up to 50 percent. Applications started now should be able to qualify….
Lurking Dangers for Licensees in Co-Marketing Arrangements
June 1st, 2017 / By Ken Harney
There was an alarm bell in the night a few weeks ago from the federal government, aimed directly at real estate agents and brokers. Did you hear it? More importantly, did you get the message?
The alarm was sounded by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Based on an investigation of “co-marketing” practices by agents at two major brokerages, a nationally-known lender and a mortgage servicer, the CFPB imposed fines and requirements for repayments to consumers totaling close to $4 million. Individual agents – and the CFPB said there were more than a hundred of them involved – were not fined. But the agency made it clear that RESPA, the federal anti-kickback law, prohibits giving and receiving anything of value in exchange for referrals of business. In other words: Individual agents, not just brokers, could be the targets of upcoming actions.
TO DIGITALLY ENHANCE PHOTOGRAPHY OR NOT? THAT IS THE QUESTION
May 15th, 2017 / By Ken Harney
As a real estate professional, what’s your take on photos used to market homes? Are you a fan of super wide angle lenses that make a narrow kitchen look twice as big? How about airbrushing away nicks and bruises, photo shopping green lawns to replace brown, blue skies to replace gray, or digitally altering all sorts of home features to make them look better?
Or are you a purist – minimal or no use of wide angle lenses, no photo shopping, just the house as it is, warts and all?
I bring this up for two reasons. First, having recently listed our long-time family home for sale, I was amazed at the wide angle shots taken for the sales brochure and online marketing. I don’t think they went over any red line – nothing inside or outside the house was changed digitally – but they sure made the house look more spacious and attractive than I feel it really is.
Is FHA the Way for Millennials?
April 27th, 2017 / By Ken Harney
As a real estate professional, you’ve got a special role in helping clients pick the best available mortgage sources and options, tailored to their specific needs. And a recent study by finance giant Freddie Mac confirmed that the vast majority of prospective buyers take the advice of their real estate professionals seriously and usually follow it.
This is particularly true of millennial first-time buyers. They are totally new to the world of mortgages, often are hampered by high debt loads and low cash. They need solid advice about everything from down payments, credit scores, student loan issues and debt-to-income ratios.
A Tale of Three Agents!
April 13th, 2017 / By Ken Harney
Call this a cautionary tale of three agents. My wife and I are in the early stages of listing our family home of many years for sale this spring. So we’ve begun the process of speaking to agents we know either specialize in our neighborhood or whose brokerage firms do.
These have been essentially get-to-know-you discussions in advance of any formal listing presentations. No CMA, no mention of pricing or commission rates, etc. We’ve also asked each agent for thoughts on what features of our home could use some updating for current market tastes.
Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Florida Real Estate License
March 29th, 2017 / By Tim Marcus
Starting a career in real estate is often an exciting and sometimes nerve-racking decision. Most licensees say that they thought about getting their Florida real estate license for years before deciding to move forward with doing so. Whether you are looking to dive into real estate as a full-time agent, or are thinking about getting the license and working part-time, Bert Rodgers Schools can help. Bert Rodgers has been in the real estate education business in Florida since 1958 and knows what it takes to enable students to obtain their license and start a successful career. Below you will find a real estate quick-start guide to help you learn how to get started in a few simple steps.
Appraisal Problems “Messing Up” Contracts
March 1st, 2017 / By Ken Harney
I’m hearing this increasingly from real estate agents I know around the country and wonder whether you are experiencing it: Appraisals are becoming a problem – especially getting them done in a timely manner for standard fees.
I talked to one agent who said appraisers seem to be suddenly in short supply and are “messing up the amount of time it takes” to go from contract to closing and causing buyers’ rate locks to expire. That impression is backed up by new polling data from NAR among members: 56 percent of all licensees in the national survey said they had experienced “problems” recently in getting appraisers to value homes under contract.
Working With Appraisers to Avoid Deal Disasters
February 14th, 2017 / By Ken Harney
It’s no secret to anyone involved in home real estate: When a buyer’s appraisal comes in well below the contract price, things can get tense and icky. Buyers balk. Sellers seethe. Licensees get stuck in the middle, hoping to negotiate a resolution.
NAR ranks below-contract appraisals among the top three deal killers. Research firm CoreLogic says one of every eight transactions in the United States is affected. It’s a big deal and some licensees place the blame solely on the appraiser involved: He or she didn’t really understand neighborhood trends; didn’t pick the “right” comps; didn’t spend enough time during the inspection focusing on all the good things about the house; didn’t make correct “adjustments” to arrive at the proper valuation for the property.
HOW TO GET YOUR FLORIDA REAL ESTATE LICENSE
January 15th, 2017 / By Lori Rodgers
So you are thinking about getting your real estate license. Perhaps you have recently moved to Florida or are transitioning careers. Maybe you have contemplated getting into real estate sales for years and now the timing is right. Or your motivation could be the result of a mild addiction to HGTV. Whatever the reasons propelling you in this direction you probably have a number.
This article will explain exactly how to get your Florida Real Estate license and how Bert Rodgers Schools of Real Estate can help
TAX REFORM GOOD FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP?
December 26th, 2016 / By Kenneth Harney
I’ve been getting this question frequently for weeks: What changes to tax laws affecting home sales and ownership can we expect from the powerful new combination of Donald Trump in the White House and the Republicans in control on Capitol Hill? Certainly there’s no danger of losing the mortgage interest deduction, right?
Conventional wisdom suggests that the MID and other real estate writeoffs are safe for at least another four years. Republican lawmakers have traditionally been solid supporters of these tax code benefits in the past, so why would that change now?
DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!
December 12th, 2016 / By Peter J. Pike
I recently read an article about how FNMA is being sued by the National Fair Housing Alliance (an advocacy group that represents fair housing interests, better known by real estate professionals as a “testing company”). It included a warning to Realtors® who work with FNMA on managing and selling its REO properties, noting that the NFHA had criticisms for some of the agents and brokers who listed the properties that it investigated, and that as the litigation progressed, they may bring some of those agents and brokers into the lawsuit as additional defendants.
“Under the Fair Housing Act, the person who owns the property, as well as anyone who has anything to do with it, has a liability,” Smith said.