Breaking Into the Real Estate Industry: Real Estate Careers for You

The housing industry plays an important role in the quality of our lives. The industry weaves the tapestry of our lifestyles and maps the blueprint of our cities. Thus, it only makes sense to populate the industry with smart, aggressive and creative people who are concerned and responsible not just because their contracts require them so but because they are of service to the general public as well.

The market industry is not just composed of real estate agents who you think do no more than bug you with untimely phone calls or hand you leaflets. The problem lies in the fact that people are misinformed about the profession and the whole industry in general. Unbeknownst to them, there’s more to the industry than making a sales pitch. In fact, the real estate industry provides a wide range of opportunities for all sorts of individuals.

Thinking of getting into the housing market? Here are some careers to choose from after completing your online real estate courses:

1. Salesperson/Broker

Forbes.com has recently ranked the job of a real estate agent as the number one happiest job in America. Scoring 4.19 percent on CareerBliss’s rankings, survey participants deemed the job as very rewarding due to the amount of control they had over their work, flexibility and everyday tasks.

Being an agent largely involves helping people buy and sell homes. Agents or brokers are adept in carrying out the process of purchasing and selling properties, loan documentation and the policies governing the processes, saving clients their precious time and money. Through training and education, agents become knowledgeable on RE laws, fair housing law and contracts as well as various financing options available to consumers.

Different types of brokers exist in the field:

  1. Commercial Brokers
    Commercial brokers specialize in finding a market for revenue-generating properties like apartments and spaces found in malls, shopping centers, office buildings and warehouses. To qualify as a commercial broker should have a keen understanding of the investment value of properties in terms of location, taxes, and market activities.
  2. Industrial or Office Brokers
    Industrial and office brokers are in charge of developing, selling or renting out properties for office headquarters and manufacturing. Industrial or office brokers should be keen of zoning laws, tax regulations, and even property management to be able to relate valuable information on the property they’re marketing to buyers.
  3. Land Brokers
    Land brokers specialize in brokering land deals for farm, residential, commercial and industrial lots. This kind of broker has a knack for looking for lands that have a potential to be developed or to generate revenues. Land brokers have to be knowledgeable about agriculture and local market economics as well to be able to successful in closing land deals.

2. Land Developer

Land developers are very important in the said industry since without them, there’s no money to be made on real estate. They conceptualize the blueprint for projects and offer a keen insight on whether a property (residential, commercial or industrial) is worthy of being developed for profit or not. Basically, they conduct site selection and cost analysis. Land developers also coordinate with construction companies and oversee the property construction. Sometimes, land developers are also involved in financing the project.

3. Office Manager

The job of a real estate office manager involves meeting with prospective clients, managing a realty or real estate business, marketing, financial management and brokerage. They are also involved in hiring real estate agents to work for a firm. Real estate managers can be self-employed or work full-time for a real estate firm.

4. Property Manager

A property manager plays an important role in-well, you guessed it right-managing and maintaining the structural integrity and usefulness of a property-whether residential (e.g. apartments, houses and condominiums); commercial (e.g. shopping centers, retail stores, offices) or industrial (e.g. factories, manufacturing plants). Their end goal is to ensure a positive cash flow for property investors and make sure they’re making most of their investments. Often times, property managers are on-call 24/7 to attend to emergencies and problems arising from the properties they handle.

5. Appraiser

Appraisers essentially evaluate property values. Their job involves assessing the profitability of properties as well as tax values, rental, insurance and accounting values. Someone who is good with numbers, has a keen knowledge of accounting and economics principles, real estate education and insight of local housing market activities are a good fit for this type of work.

6. Mortgage Specialist

Mortgage specialists help potential owners choose the right kind of loan for them. They also help businesses collect loans they’ve provided to customers. They can work for a firm or independently.

7. Copywriter/Technical Writer/Researcher

Researchers are usually part of the business development department of a real estate firm. They are either technical writers or journalists who have ventured into real estate. Brokers, developers and other types of real estate professionals depend on the data provided by researchers.

Researchers create two types of report on a prospective property: physical, which concerns the building makeup and structures; and economic, which provides forecasts or insight on industry trends, market behavior and financing.

Technical writers are involved in documenting project developments. They have to be adept with construction and planning terminology and concepts.

Copywriters are employed usually by the corporate communications department or business development department of a real estate company.

8. Urban Planner

An urban planner is someone who plans urban development with civic groups, nonprofits and state agencies to improve on the lives of the general public. They design new pathways, buildings and transportation terminals to ease the lives of the city’s inhabitants and to increase tourist receipts in the area.

9. RE Counselor

An RE counselor is not necessarily considered as a career but it is a specialty as well. Counselors are involved mostly in research and analysis and creating economic, fiscal and feasibility studies, but they also perform brokerage, management and appraisal duties. Consultants come in handy for foreigners who wish to invest locally.

10. Real Estate Educator

Real estate educators are crucial in producing the nation’s top real estate agents. They are cogs in the seemingly vast system of the housing industry, keeping it running. Without educators, the industry will be lost, don’t you think?

Like other realtor professionals, educators have would need a real estate license as well. Generally, educators are required to meet the following requirements:

  1. Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited educational provider
  2. Must be licensed as a real estate broker
  3. Have been licensed as a broker and practicing for three consecutive years
  4. Was able to meet the credit hour requirement for real estate education

Educators find work in career training providers, institutions and colleges. Seasoned ones can land a job as a subject-matter expert or even author a book on practice.

Investment Real Estate Marketing Plan – Putting Details Into Action

Marketing is one of the most important things a real estate investor can do to grow his business. It is also one of the areas that is easiest to make multiple mistakes. From failing to properly plan, failure to track your results and even worse, failure to control spending; marketing is fraught perils that beginning investors and long time investors alike must be aware and prepared to avoid.

There are 3 main areas of marketing to concentrate on when seeking to grow sales and revenues. The first is education, the second is planning and the third is tracking for adjustments and success. All three are important for investors to watch as they seek to grow sales and revenues and more importantly, build a business model that is sustainable through any real estate cycle.

EDUCATION

Educating yourself as a real estate investor and marketer is absolutely paramount if you are going to have success and grow your business. There is simply no excuse for not understanding the basics of each as they both are extremely important for the longevity and ability to stay relevant and profitable. Here a few examples of places to become educated on good marketing techniques for real estate investors.

1. Local Library – There may not be a better place to become educated on real estate marketing than the local library. Break the topic down into two subjects and you can have the basics down inside of a week. Under the real estate section there are multiple titles that explain the basics of real estate investing from beginner levels to expert levels. In addition, many of these books will give a basic outline of some simple marketing techniques and tools to get you started. When you combine that knowledge with a good Marketing 101 book from the library, you can quickly pick up the basic outline of why marketing must be done and how properly set up a marketing plan. The best part about an education from the library is the cost – practically free!

2. Real Estate Investment Clubs – Often times, these clubs are referred to in the industry as REIA’s. Associations of local real estate investors who come together several times a month to discuss topics relevant to real estate investing. These are great sources for so many things related to real estate investing, including marketing ideas and plans. By attending and immersing yourself into these groups, it is easy to develop friendships, partnerships and even mentors who can answer questions and provide guidance. By paying attention to what the top performers are doing in the field and how they are marketing their businesses, you can pick up ideas and integrate those ideas into your marketing plan. It is called modeling and it is one of the best ways to educate yourself on what is working in a particular real estate market. The biggest upside to becoming educated at a REIA is that you are surrounding yourself with the type of people that are going to be vital to your future success. The costs are usually very affordable and you can often avoid mistakes made by other investors before you.

3. Go it Alone – There probably does not need to be a tremendous amount of discussion under this heading. It speaks for itself and generally goes against all advice I could ever give any business person, especially a real estate investor. As far as education is concerned, it is an approach that many investors choose to take and often at a tremendous cost. Going it alone means deciding to jump into the deep end of the pool with both feet and learning as you go. Trial and error can be good and can sometimes lead to good results, but often after many hours and many ups and downs. Strictly looking at costs, many investors have experienced huge losses in the areas of marketing to learn what works in their particular market and often are a little behind the actual trends due to not properly learning to track and adjust.

My suggestion when it comes to education to use all the resources available including those that come with little to no costs. When you are becoming educated on how to set up a proper marketing plan complete with tracking and adjusting, then I would make sure I was a part of a local real estate investors association so that I am always up to date with the latest marketing techniques.

PLANNING

When I talk about planning and marketing, I mean to process of laying out the actual strategies you are going to use to market your business, the time frame you are going to use those strategies, the way you are going to track those results and the possible adjustments you are going to make as your results come in on your plan. One of the biggest mistakes that we see today in the real estate marketing world is not a complete failure to plan, but a failure to lay the full plan out from beginning to end. That being said, here are a few tips to properly develop a plan.

1. Know what you are currently doing and what results you are currently achieving. Even if the answer is that you are doing nothing, you can not work on where you are going if you do not know where you currently are starting from. You should be able to pinpoint today any marketing you are doing and the cost of that marketing as well as any results you are seeing.

2. Know what results you are looking for before you begin. So once you know where you are starting from, the next question is were are you going? Lay out concrete results you want to achieve and be specific. One of the glaring mistakes in this area is not being specific enough. You cannot track abstract goals. Your goals must be specific and detailed so that you can verify if you are achieving them. An example would be a specific number of new leads you want to bring in from each marketing source.

3. Give yourself set time frames to test your marketing. This is definitely the second biggest problem for real estate marketers and most marketers in general. Marketing plans must be given time to take shape and develop. Most real estate marketers are developing marketing plans which are call to action in nature. They are asking their target audience to take a particular action so that they can capture that action and develop a new lead. An example would be to “Call Today to Sell Your House Quick!”. This is a call to action marketing phrase. Often times, there will need to be multiple impressions of that message before the action is followed. Failing to plan a specific amount of time such as 60 days or 90 days, leads to a marketer stopping his action before his target audience responds. If you allow your plan to last longer and stick with all of your marketing pieces and techniques longer, you give yourself a greater chance for success in the long run. It allows for you to see over a longer period of time the results you are getting and that provides a clearer picture of what works and what does not work. DO NOT quit marketing after a couple of weeks simply because your phone is not ringing off the hook. Set your time period on the front end and then let your marketing plan work.

4. Failing to get input from other experts can be costly. If you have access to other real estate investors, I would definitely get their input on your marketing plan before implementation. If they are able to give you advice and direction it can often times help you to figure out the best route to take or at least if you are on track for success. If you have taken your time and all the steps necessary so far to put together a quality plan, then take advice from other experts, but do not be persuaded to change everything. Simply let others take a quick look for feedback, but be prepared to move forward with your plan and any adjustments they think would make a difference.

TRACKING

Tracking means having a way to actually follow and measure all of the marketing activities you are doing and the number of results each gets you. Here are some examples of the things that real estate marketers need to track for every marketing action they take.

1. What are the total number of leads generated per marketing technique tracked daily, weekly and monthly.
2. How many of those leads turned into qualified prospects daily, weekly and monthly. (qualified prospect means you were willing to invest more time to develop the lead)
3. The number of offers made to purchase property daily, weekly and monthly.
4. The ratios of offers made to where the original lead came from.

I am going to insert a quick note here to make sure everyone understands exactly how to track. It is not enough to simply know how many calls you are getting or how many leads are generated or how many offers or deals are being done. When you actually purchase an investment property, you MUST know where that lead came from at the very beginning. Tracking ratios is extremely important to this. It is important to be able to track and measure not only the leads but the quality of those leads. You can have one lead generator that gives you a majority of your leads and another that gives you a majority of your transactions. It should be obvious that you would want to spend more time and resources with the marketing technique giving your more transactions unless you are in the business to simply feel busy and not necessarily to earn a living!

5. What is the cost per lead generated, per marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.

6. What is the average income generated from each transaction generated by each marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.

When you are able to track your business in this way, it makes it much easier to make adjustments as you go and it definitely gives a clearer picture of how well you are spending marketing dollars. Often times, as legendary basketball coach John Wooden would say “we mistake activity for productivity” The entire reason for developing and implementing a proper marketing plan is so that we can determine what works, what does not work and what changes we need to make so that we are spending the fewest dollars possible for the greatest impact and result. If we fail to implement any part of this type of marketing plan, then whatever success we achieve cannot be measured against any activities and therefore cannot be duplicated.

I am a big proponent of education and immersion as the best learning tools available and I believe that when it comes to marketing, it is simply too easy to learn the proper way to plan and track. When you have the basics down and solid plan to follow, success will follow.

The Truth About the Real Estate Housing Slump

If you don’t have thick skin and don’t want to know the truth, you will not want to read this.

As a relocation specialist I get asked questions about the housing slump daily. In fact I have been interviewed 10 times the past 2 months. It irritates me how facts can be manipulated. Again, if you don’t have thick skin and don’t want to know the truth, you will not want to read this. My research is based on countless hours of pouring through real estate sales, foreclosures and interviewing many professionals related to the real estate industry. Although most professionals will not state the obvious and prefer to give some long winded explanation that doesn’t make sense, I’m going to give you the good, bad and ugly. I’m annoyed at all of the ridiculous reasons why the country is facing a housing slump and I’m going to tell the truth. Although there are some minor reasons causing the housing slump, one of the major reasons for the housing slump is abusive lenders. I will explain abusive lender have a huge part in the down turn in the real estate market.

To start, back in the 80’s a mortgage professional most likely worked for a bank had an extensive educational back ground and had many years of mortgage experience. The laws didn’t require experience and an education; the banks required their employees to have experience and an education. When the real estate market turned around in the early 90’s, a mortgage company opened up on every other street corner. In some cases, they opened up in garages and basements. Not all of the mortgage companies were bad and in fact some offered good mortgage products with good service. The abusive lenders hired employees with no mortgage financing experience. Most of these employees were lured into the easy money of the mortgage industry from their low paying sales job. A perfect employee for an abusive lender was a salesman who could sell ice to an Eskimo. The average mortgage professional went from having 15 years of experience in the 80’s to 1.5 years in early 2001. With the number of loan programs offered going from 20 to thousands and the number of wholesale lenders going from less than 50 to hundreds in the same time period, most mortgage professionals lacked the education to offer consumers the correct loan programs or the best advice. It was nothing for a higher risk borrower to be charged 6 points (1 point is equal to 1%) on a loan. In fact one lender bragged that they jammed a borrower at closing and charged 20 points on the loan. They said that they knew they would close because they were in a pinch. Borrowers looking for the best rate would settle for the lender who quoted the lowest rate not knowing that that lender would make up the rate somewhere else in the loan or change the rate at closing.

Abusive lenders knew that they all they had to do were advertise the lowest interest rate, whether it was true or not. They ran TV ads, radio commercials and sent junk mail. Most of these abusive lenders only cared about profit and the turnover with their employees was very high in their offices. Many of them folded within a couple of years and opened up under a new name the next day. In the late 90’s, the abusive lenders had to change their lending practices when real estate brokers started educating their real estate agents about the abusive lending practices. Real estate agents representing buyers changed the abusive lenders marketing. Soon after, many of these abusive lenders left the real estate purchase market and started going after the refinance business.

The abusive lenders were growing at unbelievable rates while mortgage interest rates it the 20, 25 and 30 year lows. It was easy to do mortgages, everyone wanted one. The consumers were borrowing at money at alarming rates. The abusive lender knew that the borrower was rate sensitive. You have seen their low interest rate advertising. They piled in the money and ran targeted advertising to draw more refinance customers. When borrowers got to closing and faced a switch and bait by the abusive lenders, the borrower closed because the lender had them over the barrel. A prefect referral to an abusive lender was a borrower who didn’t do their research and didn’t shop around.

In 2004 mortgage interest rates started edging up. In order to stay in business the abusive lenders had to change their business.

First the abusive lenders used good loan programs and bent the rules to lend the borrower more than what they could afford. An example would be a stated income loan program. In some cases these loan programs were good loan options. An abusive lender would take a borrower who couldn’t qualify with other loans and get them to state an unreasonable income. I have seen cases in which a cashier made $75,000 on a loan application. The abusive lender knew that the chances the borrower would default but they didn’t care because they got paid up front.

Next the abusive lenders offered vacations or some other type of inducement in order get more business. Some states, lately, have made inducements illegal; however, there are a few that say it is fair game to trick borrowers. To me, it is hard to believe that people still fall for inducements. These lenders make up the difference by creating another fee at closing. Abusive lenders started hiding the inducements by offering kickbacks to the people who referred them the business.

Lastly, the abusive lenders hoped to push borrower’s credit risk higher. A higher credit risk means a riskier loan. The abusive lender invented ways to charge more fees or raise the interest rate. They would tell the borrower that a trade line which had been paid pushed their credit risk higher or they would give bad advice to the borrower. The abusive lenders goal was to push the borrower’s credit risk higher so they could charge the borrower more points and fees, thus increasing their profits. If the credit risk couldn’t be pushed up, the abusive lender would find a way to lend more money. In some cases, the abusive lender would lend more than what the home was worth. What could a consumer do when they have a $175,000 loan on a $150,000 home? The consumer can’t sell their home and they can’t refinance their home. What options do the borrowers have to get them out of the mess?

The mortgage market seems to be correcting itself. Wholesale lenders have started educating the commissioned sales agent. Wholesale lenders are dropping abusive lenders, low rate abusive lenders are leaving the business and the government has been following up on unethical and abusive lending practices. Currently, real estate foreclosures are at a high and wholesale lenders are working to make changes.

Recently, many state and federal government agencies understand how abusive lenders have negatively impacted the real estate market. Abusive lenders are being investigated for mortgage fraud as pointed out on http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com. Every day in the media a new case of mortgage fraud is stated. Some states have enacted laws that lenders are required to get a mortgage license and pass a background test. Other states have stopped the practice of inducements and have required education and continuing education for lenders.

If you are looking to obtain a mortgage in the future there are some safe guards to protect yourself. First ask for referrals from friends and family. Next do a Google Search and search for lenders. If you are looking to buy a home also search for real estate agents. Many real estate agents have good lenders that they would recommend. I did several real estate searches in Kansas City and found 2 real estate agents in all of my searches. I contacted both real estate agents and asked them who the lenders they referred out to home buyers. Chris Dowell, of the Dowell Taggart Team of Infinity Realty ( http://www.DowellTaggart.com ) is very well familiar with the mortgage industry. In fact, Chris has been in the real estate industry for over 18 years and a past Vice President to a large Kansas City lender. Chris said that he does everything possible to protect his clients and will not use a lender who does unethical mortgage practices. The next real estate agent, Jason Brown of Keller Williams ( http://www.JBPRealtyGroup.com ) , stated that most of his clients are very well educated and typically don’t fall for poor mortgage practices; however, if a client would like a list of good loan officers he would be happy to provide them the list. Jason also pointed out that he doesn’t accept perks from lenders of any kind.

After you have formed your list of mortgage lenders. Interview all of them on the phone. Ask for references, how long they have been a mortgage officer, what type of loans they do and what type of loans they originate. Even ask how many loans they do a month and why you should do business with them. After you have narrowed your list, schedule an appointment in person with the loan officer. Ask for all possible loan options. Once you have narrowed down the list of loan options ask for a Good Faith Estimate (GFE). The GFE will show you the cost on closing day for your loan. Send a copy of the GFE to the other lenders on your list and see what they recommend.

Make sure you understand what kind of loan you are obtaining and how it works. Make sure you understand the true cost of the loan over the course of many years by examining a Truth and Lending Statement and you are aware of possible future changes.

With the market being a buyer’s market in most real estate markets, there is no better time to buy. In fact, many real estate investors interviewed are finding this is the best real estate market to buy a home in the past 25 years. Remember to do your research and you will most likely decrease your chances of falling prey to an abusive lender.