How Real Estate Agents Risk their License everyday

Don’t risk your Real Estate License

Many Real Estate Agents put their license at risk on a daily basis without knowing it.  Generally this is by stepping outside of their official duties, and stepping into areas they shouldn’t.

Title Company Risk

Did you know that most states have insurance solicitation laws that may apply when you refer a client to an in-house title firm (or one with which you have a Marketing Service Agreement)?

That means that you might need a title insurance license to make certain referrals. The safest thing a real estate agent can do is to discuss title, what it is, and let their clients decide who to use.images1923532412

This includes real estate agents automatically ordering title services from their preferred title company without talking to clients and getting their permission.

Mortgage Risk

Did you know that mortgage laws also prevent non-licensed mortgage originators from discussing loans, loan terms, programs and interest rates?  A Mortgage Loan Originator License must be obtained BEFORE doing any of the following residential property mortgage loan activities: soliciting, originating a loan application, offering, or negotiating any residential mortgage loans.

Can are real estate agent refer a client to a lender or Loan officer?  You bet, but they need to be very careful if they suggest loan programs, or talk about interest rates. A real estate agents best bet is to simply tell the client that they are not a lender, and they need to ask the Loan Officer all mortgage questions.

CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

“Solicit” means attempting to sell or asking or urging a person to apply for a particular kind of insurance or loan from a particular company, and no person shall sell, solicit, or negotiate any insurance or mortgage without a license.

Regulators at the CFPB are turning their heads towards Real Estate Agents, now that they have caused a lot of headache in the banking, mortgage, and credit card industries.  Just like giving legal advice,  it is generally best for real estate agents to simply avoid the potential trouble, and think before you act, even if your heart is in the right place by not giving advice and referrals.


Are home sellers stupid?

“Broker Bryant, How much do you think our home is worth?” “Well, Mr. Need T. Sell, I think you house is worth about $260,000. However, I’m not here to tell you what your house is worth, I’m here to tell you what it will take to get it sold. In my opinion, I think we should Range Price your property from $239,000 to $259,000 trying to sell as close to $250,000 as possible.” He says in shock, “Broker Bryant, are you crazy? I just had it appraised 6 months ago and it appraised at $275,000! There is no way I am giving my house away at $250,000.”

Now being the “good looking” Realtor that I am, I respond, “Mr. Need T. Sell, you have been on the market for 6 months priced at $265,000 and told me you have not had a single showing. How has that been working out for you?”

He looks at me sternly and says, “Broker Bryant, the reason our house didn’t sell was because our Realtor didn’t do anything. We asked her to run an ad in the paper and she never did. All she did was put up a sign and put our home in the MLS. You can’t sell a house like that. I don’t know how they ever sell a house. All she ever did was call us every month and tell us to reduce the price. That’s the only time we ever heard from her. She’s the one that said she could sell our house at $265,000.”

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Minneapolis Area Medium Home Values UP 12.4%

Minneapolis, MN:  Metro area home prices were up 3.3% in March according to the widely watched Case-Shiller home price index.

This report confirms what what I have been saying for some time now – that home prices in the Minneapolis / St Paul area are increasing, the market is stabilizing, and that especially in the sub $200,000 price range, good houses are going fast with multiple offers above asking price just days on the market.

All real estate is local. Our increase bucks the nationwide trend.  Overall, U.S. home prices fell in March, ending the first quarter with some of the lowest levels scene since the housing crisis began in mid-2006. During the first quarter, home prices nationally reached new lows, falling 1.9 percent year-to-year.

Nationwide, average home prices are down roughly 35 percent from their peak in the second quarter of 2006.

Demand for homes has been showing some serious signs of stabilization, as low mortgage rates, low home prices, and improved job growth have pushed first time home buyers off the fence and into the housing market.

According to information from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, March marked the first time since 2010 that median home prices had risen in the Twin Cities.  The Minneapolis / St Paul median home price rose 6.4 %, to $149,000. The positive news continued in April, when a shrinking supply of homes on the market helped drive the median sales price up 12.4% to $163,000. Foreclosures and short sales also made up a smaller share of sales in recent months, which helped boost prices.

Forget the national reports. In this market, everyday you wait is going to cost you. Get pre-approved today, and be in your own home next month.


How people find a Real Estate Agent

The two most important people in a real estate transaction is your Loan Officer, and your Real Estate Agent.

Having an experienced person in these two positions will make for smooth, rewarding, successful transaction. So how do people pick this very important person?

Referral by friend, neighbor or relative is the most commonly cited method sellers used to find their real estate agent.

Thirty-nine percent (30%) of sellers used a referral to find their agent, and an additional twenty-two percent (22%) used an agent they had worked with before.

The typical seller only contacts one agent during the selling process, further emphasizing the importance of personal relationships in real estate.

Sixteen percent (16%) of sellers contacted two agents before selling their home and eighteen percent (18%) contacted three or more agents.

Among recent sellers who used an agent, eighty-five percent (85%) reported they would definitely (69%), or probably (16%) use that real estate agent again or recommend to others.

For buyers, the average person talks to 9 agents over the typical 9 month long period from the time they start thinking about buying a home until they actually close on a home.


Technology for Realtors – Are you being left behind?

Are you an old dinosaur Realtor, or do you use all of today’s advanced technology? Watch today’s video, then get you own free gift of technology for your iPhone, Blackberry, or Android phone from Joe Metzler at Mortgages Unlimited.


Don’t risk losing your Real Estate License

STOP risking your real estate license

Do you unintentionally give legal advice to your clients? Most real estate agents are very aware, and try to stay clear of giving any legal advice. Unfortunately, there are plenty of agents who have crossed that line, and are now facing plenty of headaches and lawsuits.

Have you ever instructed a client to stop paying their mortgage? You’ve given legal advice.

Legal advice is one thing… and rightfully most agents successfully avoid putting themselves in trouble, yet everyday they violate RESPA and the Truth in Lending (TILA) laws by giving mortgage advice.

Yes, mortgage advice. Punishable by a $10,000 fine and jail time!

If you have ever directed a client to a specific mortgage program? Maybe a program offered from “your guy” versus a program from another lender because you simply want to work with your guy versus the unknown loan officer??? Then you are walking a very dangerous line.

Have you ever given mortgage advice simply because you believe you are looking out for the customers best interests? Again, you are walking a fine line.

I have a mortgage originators license. I work 50 hours a week, and have for the last 17-years taking full applications, properly analyzing the clients financial situation, and directing them to the product that I believe best fits them. Even with that, a client can sue me for “putting them in the wrong loan.” You don’t have a mortgage license, and spend most of your time helping people buy and sell homes. Ask yourself. Do you really have any business giving mortgage advice?

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, (RESPA) was enacted to help protect consumers when they buy and sell real estate, and to teach them to be better shoppers.

Prohibited practices for agents include many items. One of the most commonly violated section involves “shared expenses”. RESPA does not prevent joint advertising between two settlement service providers, such as a mortgage company and a real estate broker advertising their services on the same brochure or newspaper ad. However, each advertising party must pay for his share on a proportionate basis.

Another common violation has to deal kickbacks. Kickbacks of any kind are prohibited. Even small promotional items with the agent’s name on them can be considered a thing of value for the referral of business as it offsets the agent’s marketing expenses.

My advice? Learn the phrases “consult a lawyer”, and “consult a licensed mortgage professional” to avoid risking a legal headache and your license.

For more information regarding the Act, you can find it in Title I of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The act is enforced by the Federal Reserve Board via Regulation Z (12 C.F.R. Part 226).


Are you a pop tart agent?

Are you a pop tart Real Estate Agent? Do you instantly jump when a new buyer calls? Stop wasting your time, set proper expectations. Is your buyer really pre-approved for a home mortgage loan? Learn more with Joe Metzler and Dave Harvey of Mortgages Unlimited, and the MN Real Estate Daily Show.

Thoughts? Log on and post your responses!
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NAR fees are up, and I’m on a budget

NAR fees are up, advertising costs are up, real estate sales are down, but as a Real Estate Agent, you need to find more clients, and you need to do it on a budget. Here are a few simple tools to increase your business and make more money from Joe Metzler at Mortgages Unlimited, and the Mn Real Estate Daily Show.

Thoughts? Log in and Post!


Tough Real Estate Market? What are buyers and sellers supposed to do?

The real estate market today is one of the toughest in recent history. A large number of foreclosed homes on the market is marking it tough on the traditional home seller. While every market is different, most areas have seen a significant drop in value.

The mortgage industry has tighten lending, with a virtual elimination of all non-traditional financing and “creative” zero down type options (although VA and USDA are still around and great zero down options). Most programs today require 3.5% to 5% down MINIMUM and good credit. Gone are the days of easy lending.

Washington has tried “fixing” mortgage lending, but has essentially failed with bad programs like FHA Secure, Help For Home Owners, HARP, and HAMP. They’ve made industry changes that have cost home buyers more money, like HVCC, and LO Compensation. They’ve created more confusion with the new three page Good Faith Estimate, and the whopper of them all… Only requiring half of the Loan Officers to have a license!

Traditional sellers have the upper hand and an easier time in most cases in the “condition of the property” category versus a foreclosure, but it is still very tough when the banks are liquidating foreclosed properties, and the prices they are giving some of them away at.

So, what is a seller and buyer to do? How does a seller sell and a buyer buy in today’s market?

First, understand that because of the large volume of foreclosed properties, it is a great time to be a buyer, whether you are a move-up buyer or a first-time buyer.

For sellers, now is not the time to try and sell your own property. You need the help of a FULL-TIME, experienced Realtor to help guide you through the process. Buyers need the same help to guide them through the maze of properties, both traditional and bank-owned. Having a good agent is extremely important. Take some time to interview your Realtor. How long have they been in business? How many sales have they completed? How many buyers have they helped? Can you get references? Don’t just pick your agent from an open house, or use your sisters best friend who got her license last month.

For move-up buyers, you may have to give in to a lower than you like selling price, but you should reap a nice reward on any new home you buy. This is especially true if you are moving from the low $200k to the mid $300k range, as homes that were selling in the $400k range are now in the $350k. Therefore, even if you have to give up a little on your current sale price, you should more than make up for it on the buy side. Remember, a house priced right, and realistic, will sell even in today’s market right away. Furthermore, with today’s standard fixed rates hovering around 5%, you can still lock in historically great rates!

For first-time buyers, it is a great time to find aggressively priced homes, whether it is a bank-owned foreclosure, or a motivated traditional seller. Not all buyers are ready, or want to tackle “AS IS” foreclosures, so be sure to be honest with yourself about what you are doing to avoid a potential disaster down the road.

Today’s prices are again extremely affordable in the first-time buyer starter home category. Even though most zero down programs are no longer available, with proper negotiation, you can get the seller to pay most, if not all of your closing costs.

This means you can buy a $150k home for just $5250 out-of-pocket. With programs like FHA, the entire down payment can be a gift from family members, or community assistance programs. That is how it was always done prior to about 1999… and somehow people bought houses then, so don’t sit back waiting. NOW is the time to buy!

Finally, one of the first things you should do is get pre-approved with a quality lender who will discuss with you your qualifying ability and program options in today’s market. Someone who has the knowledge, expertise, and full range of programs (like FHA) to bring you to a successful no surprises closing. This is never the guy on the internet posting the lowest rate, or the unlicensed bank representative at the 1-800 number bank call center.

A word of caution. If you are shopping for a lender based on rate, be prepared to get screwed. Be sure to read these informative articles for more information: “Rate Shopping – How to do it right“, and “Lender Shopping – How to do it right“.

No matter what your real estate needs are, buying or selling, with the proper guidance of full-time professional Realtor and Loan Officer, you should be able to have your dreams come true.


WOW your sellers with simple internet marketing

WOW your sellers with Internet Marketing.

As an agent, you can sell homes. The number 1 issue most Realtors face is
finding the next client.  So now you’ve gotten a listing, but are your
clients saying WOW and referring you to others? Today, it is simple to WOW a
seller with free, or close to free internet marketing of their home.  Learn
how with this short video from
Joe Metzler of Mortgages Unlimited, St Paul, MN


How to have Real Estate Success in a down market

Look, there is no magic trick to being a successful Real Estate Agent. Winning agents in a down market don’t make excuses, they make the sales calls they need to make to generate new business. Partnering with a successful and motivated Loan Officer and Lender enhances your success. Watch this motivational clip by Joe Metzler of Mortgages Unlimited, St Paul, MN

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Are you being pressured by your Realtor to use “their” lender?

Are you being pressured by your Realtor to use “their” lender?

Minneapolis, MN: When buying a home, unless you have cash, you are going to need financing! As a consumer, you have the right to pick whatever lender you decide is best for you. You will likely also receive all sorts of lender suggestions from those around you, and maybe even high pressure to use specific lenders.

My take on the state of the industry and why you are being pressured to use a specific lender follows one of three scenarios:

  • You have a competent real estate agent who is concerned about the transaction closing. If they have never worked with the lender you plan on using, they are naturally concerned about that lender’s ability to perform. More often than not, this is an unfounded in fact fear, perpetuated from hard to close sub-prime loans that long ago disappeared from the market. More often than not, simply having your lender and Real Estate Agent talk to each other will address the Real Estate agent’s concerns. If they are both competent professionals, they’ll recognize that in each other and problem solved.
  • Most real estate agent today work at a company that has their own lender. The agent is under enormous pressure from management to refer all buyers to the in-house lender.  Why is that? Because most of the profit from the real estate operation accrues from the in-house mortgage and title company operation, and not from the real estate side.  You will almost always find that the rates offered by the in-house mortgage lender are higher than what you could find from other lenders. The in-house lender knows the statistical evidence that 75% of home buyers accept the first rate offered to them and set their profit margin accordingly. If the lender your agent is recommending is offering you higher rates than another lenders you judge to be competent you now know why their rates are higher – they are responsible for producing excess profit for the parent organization.  Your choice whether you want to pay for that excess profit or not.
  • The agent is getting an under the table kick back from the lender – yes illegal, and unfortunately, yes it continues to occur. The specific agent themselves is getting a monetary kickback, their advertising paid for, or some other form of payment by the lender or specific loan officer. While very rare, it does happen.

If the rates offered by the recommended lender are higher, it is pretty simple – you are not getting the best deal in the market. You are paying for someone’s additional profit. That “someone” could be the big bank name as their rates are higher to pay for all of their fixed overhead and advertising. It could be the real estate company that depends upon extra mortgage affiliate profit to pay the commission splits they are offering to real estate agents, or something else.

Most buyers focus on the monthly payment difference between rates and end up thinking something like, “the agent wants me to use this specific lender and the monthly payment is only $15 dollars more, so who cares”.   What you’re missing is the present economic value difference that an .125% or .25% higher rate means in dollars today.

What I mean by that – if the recommended lender is offering you a 5.00% rate and other qualified and competent lenders tell you they can off you a 4.75% rate, the important number is not the $15 or $30 per month difference. The important number comes from asking the 4.75% rate lender, “What is the dollar amount of the lender closing cost credit you will give me if I do the loan with you at 5.00%?”  Another way to look at it is this, at 4.75%, maybe your closing costs are $6,000, but at 5.00%, your closing costs are only $4,000.

That is the dollar amount that could have been in your pocket, but if you give in to the pressure, and instead transfers to someone else’s pocket. When you are getting that level of pressure, someone has a vested interest in who you obtain your mortgage through.

Bottom line: Talk to the Realtor’s suggested preferred lender if you want, but be sure to talk to one or two other lenders, then YOU CHOOSE who YOU WANT.


 

(C) 2011 – Joe Metzler – Mortgages Unlimited, St Paul, MN #274132. Re-blog but do not steal!

We lend in MN and WI ONLY. Searching rates on home loans, rates for refinancing your mortgage in MN or WI. We have some of the best rates on home loans!


Grow Your Real Estate Business for Free if you know the secret

MN Real Estate Agents, Are you closing deals, making money, and growing your business, or are you killing your future business.

Learn how to grow your business with the right attitude and the right mortgage lending partners.


Realtors – Make more money, sell more homes. Free Idea

Let’s face it, times are tough in the Real Estate market right now. With so many Realtors chasing a much  smaller pool of home buyers (both first time buyers and move up buyers), agents need every edge to gain more clients, sell more homes, and make more money.

This short video tells Real Estate Agents how to stop giving away money to others, and start putting it in their own pocket!

Click the share button and send this to all your Real Estate Agent friends