Tips & Advice
What types of service do real estate agents provide?
Agents provide a wide range of services that can help you make a speedy and profitable real estate transaction. Real estate agents can assist sellers with marketing their homes, and this includes things like coordinating open houses and scheduling photography that presents the home in an appealing manner on real estate websites. Agents can assist both buyers and sellers with all aspects of the negotiation process, with the aim of helping to maximize profits on the transaction. Finally, agents can also support both property managers and tenants with property rental.
How long does it take to become a real estate agent?
It's possible to get the licensing you need to become a real estate agent in just a few weeks. Some states require you to take pre-licensing coursework, and this can range from 45-75 hours or more. If you choose to train for licensing at a real estate school, the educational requirements can usually be met in four to six months. Online real estate schools are also available, and these allow students to proceed at their own pace. At an online school, a motivated student can complete the coursework necessary for licensing in a few short weeks.
What is the difference between a real estate agent and a broker?
There are key differences between a real estate agent and a broker. A broker is typically an owner of a firm or franchise, and these professionals handle such tasks as setting up earnest-money accounts and approving final contracts. Agents are employed by brokers, and they split their commissions with these professionals. Relative to agents, brokers typically have to deal with more exams and a larger course load to obtain licensing.
How can someone become a real estate agent?
To become a real estate agent, you'll need to prepare for and pass a licensing exam. Pre-license education hours may be required, and the exact amount varies from state to state. Once you've passed the exam, the next step is to connect with a real estate broker. Agents act on behalf of a broker, and are not allowed to handle real estate transactions independently. The broker will assist in completing the final paperwork that will allow you to manage real estate transactions in your state. Some states require a broker to sponsor an agent prior to the agent's licensing exam.
What is a real estate agent?
A real estate agent is a professional who represents clients who are purchasing, selling, renting, or leasing property. Real estate agents need to be licensed in order to practice. These individuals usually work solely on commission, so it's necessary for them to close deals if they hope to generate income.
What is a reverse mortgage loan?
A reverse mortgage is a type of mortgage loan that's open to homeowners who are 62 or older. These loans allow these homeowners to convert a portion of their home equity into cash. With a reverse mortgage, the borrower doesn't make monthly payments to the lender. Instead, the loan is repaid to the lender via proceeds raised from the sale of the property after the borrower moves out of the home or dies.
How to get a home mortgage
- Take a look at your credit. Strong credit can help you get a mortgage loan at attractive interest rates. Before applying for a loan, take a look at your credit score. A FICO credit score of 670 to 739 is considered good, while a score of 740 to 850 is considered very good or exceptional. If your score is weak, consider taking steps to improve your credit before seeking a loan. You can improve your credit by paying off balances and limiting credit card usage to 20 percent of available credit.
- Know what size loan you can afford. Many experts say your mortgage loan shouldn't exceed 2.5 times your annual salary. Your monthly payment will be dictated by the size of your loan and the amount of your down-payment. You can reduce the size of your monthly payment by increasing the size of your down-payment.
- Get pre-approved by a mortgage lender. Before beginning your home search, it's a good idea to get your loan pre-approved by a mortgage lender. This will let you know how large of a loan you can expect to get. You can use this information to narrow your home search to properties that are priced to fall within the limits of your loan amount.
- Choose a mortgage type. Your choices include a fixed-rate mortgage and an adjustable-rate mortgage, and you can choose a mortgage insured by the government or one that is not.
- Find a home. Once you've found a property you'd like to purchase, the lender will have the property appraised to make sure its value is commensurate with the amount of your mortgage loan. Once the mortgage has been approved, you'll need to do things like order a title search and purchase homeowner's insurance. If you have a government-backed loan, there might be other types of insurance you need to purchase.
- Fixed-rate mortgage. This is a mortgage that has a fixed interest rate over the entire life of the loan. The benefit is that it offers predictable payment terms and the fixed interest rate allows the size of your monthly payment to stay the same year after year.
- Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). With this type of mortgage, interest rates change from time to time to reflect current market conditions. In many cases, the rate remains fixed for an initial period, and then it is adjusted on a yearly basis. For example, with a 3/1 ARM loan, the 3 in the name indicates that the loan has a fixed interest rate for the first three years. Afterward, the rate is adjusted on a yearly basis, as indicated by the 1.
- Conventional mortgage. This is a mortgage loan that is issued with no government backing. A conventional mortgage might come with a fixed rate or an adjustable rate.
- Government-insured mortgage. This is a mortgage that is backed by the government, such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A government-backed loan might come with a fixed rate or an adjustable rate, and typically requires a smaller downpayment than a non-government issues loan.
- Conforming mortgage. A conforming mortgage is one that falls within loan limits set by the FHA. These limits vary by real estate market. Expensive real estate markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco have higher loan limits.
- Jumbo mortgage. A jumbo mortgage is one that exceeds loan limits set by the FHA. In most markets, a jumbo loan is one that exceeds roughly $400,000. However, in expensive markets like New York City and San Francisco, the limits are higher; in these markets, a jumbo loan is one that exceeds roughly $600,000. Jumbo loans usually require higher down-payments and excellent credit.
How to find the owner of a vacant property
- Research the property's tax and mortgage records. These records are usually available online. Tax and mortgage records should be able to provide you with the name and address of the property's owner, and they might also provide you with a phone number.
- Ask the neighbors. In some cases, neighboring residents will be able to provide you with the name of the person who owns a vacant property, and maybe even a forwarding address and phone number. When communicating with neighbors, make it clear that you're someone who's interested in purchasing the property. Otherwise, neighbors may think you're a debt collector, and this could make them reluctant to provide information.
- Hire a skip tracer. A competent skip tracer can help you find the owner of a vacant property. These private investigators are skilled at locating people, and they are often able to generate results within 24 hours. It can cost as little as $20 per search.
What is a mortgage payment?
A mortgage payment is made by a borrower to a lender that has provided a loan used to finance a real estate purchase. This payment typically includes both principal and interest, and it's made until the original loan has been fully repaid. Mortgage payments are typically made on a monthly basis, and these loans usually come with 15- or 30-year terms.