Author - PDH Real Estate

Decorative pills leading against a headboard.

A Realtor’s Quick Guide to Home Staging

One recent survey suggested that 77 percent of buyers’ agents claimed that staging a home made it easier to visualize themselves owning the home. Staging a home can certainly make a difference in the sale of your home. While most real estate agents do not stage all homes they sell, the truth is that good reason exists to consider it.

Are you struggling to stage homes so they sell efficiently? This guide will provide you with some tips you can use to stage homes to perfection.

Staging a Home Makes a Difference

A significant amount of sellers’ real estate agents claim staging a home typically decreases its time on the market. Of course, some agents believe staging could actually increase a home’s time on the market. You should use your best judgment for each house you sell.

If you stage a home, you can expect to see the biggest increase in home values if you decorate a home to appeal to the largest group of buyers. People want to envision their own belongings in the home, so keep it neutral and spaced out.

Staging Specific Rooms Is Most Helpful

The most important room for real estate agents to stage is the living room. The living room should be a light neutral, perhaps an ivory or gray tone. Put away any personal mementos or family photos. Keep the furniture simple too, offering just a couch, coffee table, and possibly just one or two seats.

The master bedroom is also important to stage. A calm beige and matching bedspread with many pillows adds a professional touch. A bed, nightstand, dresser, and mirror are all you really need to create a homey atmosphere. Don’t ignore window dressings in the bedroom.

Next is the kitchen. The most important thing is for the kitchen to be clean and odor-free. Take the trash out, run the garbage disposal, and pay close attention to any potential dirt spots. Organize the pantries and clear the counters.

Alternatives to Staging a Home

Keep in mind that staging a home does not necessarily mean it will sell at a higher price. While it may appeal more quickly to buyers, your clients should not expect to receive much more than they are asking for it.

Woman pushing drapes aside on a window.

Don’t forget the impact lighting and window dressings have on a room.

Not every home is fit for staging. Sometimes, the best you can do is declutter a home and make some repairs. Notable repairs and steps to take during staging include:

  • Fixing drywall holes
  • Removing stains in the carpet
  • De-personalizing the home
  • Improving curb appeal
  • Removing evidence of pets
  • Painting walls

Even if you do not hire somebody to stage the home professionally, making the home as clean and neutral as possible is critical if you want your efforts to pay off.

Learn More About Effective Selling Practices

Staying up-to-date on best practices for selling homes is a fantastic way to continue providing your clients a helpful service. We offer many different real estate continuing education courses to meet your needs. Ready to learn more? Choose your state now and get started!

Couple signing a real estate document.

What Real Estate Agents Should Know about Bump Clauses

Even if you are not familiar with real estate contracts, you might have heard of a bump clause. Real estate professionals often write bump clauses into contracts to allow a buyer to continue marketing a property even after receiving a bid. Sellers who receive better deals can then bump their original buyers. Ultimately, a bump clause has pros and cons for both parties.

Real estate agents should always carefully consider the impact of a bump clause on the best interests of their clients. Real estate continuing education helps real estate agents determine the best way to approach bump clauses for buyers and sellers.

How a Bump Clause Works

Suppose the seller receives an offer from a buyer who has a contingency. Perhaps the seller is still trying to sell his or her former home, for instance. The bump clause allows the seller to accept another offer, so long as the seller notifies the original buyers and sees if they will waive their contingency. If not, the buyer accepts the new offer and the first buyer receives the payment they put down.

Bump Clause Advantages for Sellers

The biggest advantage of a bump clause to a seller is that he or she can continue listing the home on the market for several months awaiting the contingency period to end. This is good because re-listing a home later can stigmatize the property.

Additionally, the seller can use the pending deal as leverage with buyers who could be swayed to outbid the current price. The buyer could end up offering a better bid.

When sales are not as hot as they once were, bump clauses tend to emerge. Sellers can hold out for a better offer while holding one potential buyer in their pocket. For a seller, the clause may feel like a security blanket.

Bump Clause Advantages for Buyers

The buyer often presents a bump clause to the seller in the hopes it will influence the seller to accept an offer with a contingency. Otherwise, trying to buy a home while selling your home at the same time can be a hardship. While the concept of a bump clause does not initially seem advantageous to the buyer, it can present opportunities not otherwise available.

Wooden bird house with a pile of coins and rolled up paper money.

Real estate transactions rely on foresight, understanding the market, and knowing how to use contracts strategically.

The Best Time to Use a Bump Clause

Bump clauses do not always work, and they especially do not work when the market is hot. In a seller’s market, offers are coming in without contingencies. Consider your location and the state of the market in your area before considering a bump clause.

For sellers, the best time to take advantage of a bump clause is when the offer is strong enough to warrant it. If the second buyer has bad credit, he or she may be unable to secure funding for the home.

Whether you are a new real estate agent or simply want to brush up on your knowledge about contractual clauses, consider taking real estate continuing education. Choose your state now and start your training today!

Sold real estate sign in front of a house.

6 Best Lockboxes for Your Realty Company

Realtors rely on lockboxes for the homes they show. No real estate agent can get by without understanding which lockboxes are desirable when he or she is concerned with home security.

In this guide, you will learn more about the top lockboxes on the market today, as well as some tips for using the lockboxes.

1 – Nu-Set Lockboxes

The Nu-Set 2050 lockbox comes with a detachable lid and weather resistant cover to protect the interior from the elements. You will not notice any rusting or sticking. In addition to high-quality materials, the security features of this box require a key to change the combination. Unfortunately, the box is not large enough to hold a card.

2 – Kingsley Lockboxes

The biggest benefit of this Kingsley Guard-a-Key 70074 lockbox is its rotating hinged design, which can fit up to 10 keys. The shackle design fits most doorknobs, and the body is weather resistant. The intuitive design makes it easy to set codes.

3 – WordLock Lockboxes

Boasting a huge storage capacity, the WordLock KS-052-BKbox is an excellent choice if you want to use the same box for a multi-unit community. The biggest downside of this lockbox is the small window which somebody could break if they wanted to do so.

4 – Kiddie AccessPoint Lockboxes

The Kiddie AccessPoint 0010141 offers quarter-inch thick zinc alloy and a spacious interior that can fit keys and cards. Best of all, you can use an alphabetical code to open the box, which may be easier to remember. The construction is designed for safety, preventing anybody from wedging the door open. With the Kiddie AccessPoint 001404 model, you can set several access codes.

Real estate contract document with keys and a pen.

Lockboxes come in a variety of styles, allowing you to experiment with different options.

5 – Master Lock Lockboxes

The Master Lock 5400D is a versatile choice because it is available for real estate agents on a budget. The durable nature of the lockbox is excellent, but you may be disappointed by the limited storage capacity.

6 – KeyGuard Lockboxes

The Keyguard SL-590 box is large and offers a tough exterior. Inside, you can fit everything from key fobs to cards. Plus, you can mount the lockbox on a wall rather than shackle it to a doorknob. The downside? You have to re-enter the combination to close it.

You might also want to consider the KeyGuard SL-500 as an alternative which is easy to use, durable, and intuitive. The box is also weatherproofed thanks to its tight seal.

Tips for Lockbox Safety

Real estate continuing education addresses the issues of real estate agent safety, but anybody can use a refresher on using the lockbox safely.

First, keep in mind that illumination is critical. The lockbox should always be under a light or a motion sensor light that will deter any potential trespassers from trying to work the lock. Keep in mind you may be better off putting the box somewhere it would expose a potential thief to the street.

Next, make sure you change your lockbox codes frequently to prevent individuals with previous access from continuing to enter homes you are showing.

With real estate continuing education, you can learn more about safety and security when you show homes. Are you ready to learn more? Start your training today!

Real estate CE

Is There Relief in Sight for This Nation’s Housing Shortage?

Faced with an unprecedented housing shortage, the United States has few affordable homes to offer prospective buyers. The housing market has not been easy for buyers in recent years. Could recent changes influence the housing shortage? With some understanding of recent trends and real estate training, you may soon see the gap between supply and demand narrow.

A Growing Demand for Homes

Since 2007, demand for homes has been growing. The number of households is growing steadily, and the consequences of not being able to find a home to live in include resentment toward gentrification in many neighborhoods, especially with increasing homelessness. In areas where home prices are rising due to the growth of the tech industry, this is especially true.

A Quickening Pace for Building

Real estate professionals learn a lot about the market by analyzing both the number of building permits approved and the housing starts in the region. In the last year, building permits have increased eight percent. The northeastern United States saw the biggest jump in building permits percentage-wise, but the largest annual gain appears to be in the Midwest.

Housing starts also rose significantly in the last year, by about 20 percent. The units meant to be built before the end of 2018 have also increased. Of course, the fact that companies are building new homes does not mean that the housing shortage is nearing an end. In the past, builders have been forced to shut down construction based on lack of demand. Whether or not homes sell is another issue.

A Changing Legal Landscape

Legal issues are common components of real estate training, especially with new laws emerging to ease restrictions on housing units like guesthouses. In some locations, these guesthouses were not allowed permits due to zoning issues, but some communities are changing their stance based on the housing shortage. Could building multiple homes on one lot cut down on the demand for homes?

Stone front house with a small green front yard and shrubbery.

The real estate industry relies heavily on current permitting and construction opportunities. What does your region have to offer?

An Existing Financial Issue

While new homes are being built, this does not mean everybody will be able to afford them. The cost of new homes is approximately 21 percent higher than the cost of existing homes. Plus, buyers considering new homes must also think about the inconvenience of waiting for a home or nearby resources to be built. For many buyers, an existing home is alluring.

Real Estate Training for the Future

The real estate industry is ever-changing, and even real estate professionals cannot always make accurate predictions about the changing face of home availability. Nobody knows exactly what the future holds for the housing crisis, especially in a time when younger people are struggling to purchase their first homes.

The best any real estate agent can do is focus on real estate training so it can prepare them for the coming changes. If you are ready to get started, choose your state now!

Beautiful entryway of a gray and white house.

Tips for Selling Older Homes in the Midst of New Construction

If you have noticed new construction around the neighborhood, you are not alone. Some areas seem to breed new homes. While this is good news for buyers, clients selling older homes may face difficulties.

Old homes may not stack up against new homes boasting the latest designs in lighting, countertops, appliances, and flooring. Real estate CE can bridge the gap that exists, helping you bring your client’s dreams of selling their homes to light, but so can these helpful tips.

Out with the Outdated

One of the first things your client needs to do is deal with any potentially outdated rooms, especially before taking photos of the home for the listing. These photos can make or break the decision of a potential buyer to come look at a home.

Some of the best updates are the smallest. A coat of paint and new kitchen drawer and cabinet hardware can work wonders for photos on a listing site.

Some updates may require remodeling an entire room of the house. The biggest updates to freshen up older homes include changing the countertops and totally overhauling the bathroom.

Offer Pre-Inspection

Inspection can be a difficult part of the home-buying process. By offering pre-inspection, you are also offering peace of mind to potential buyers. The inspector will provide information about anything the home must have before it can sell.

The HVAC system can be especially tricky to deal with, so having a pre-inspection completed can help buyers make up their minds. Pre-inspection prevents a buyer from asking to have money knocked off your asking price to fix specific issues since you can price it according to the findings.

Get Smart About Smart Technology

One of the biggest benefits to your career may be taking real estate CE about the role smart technology plays in adding value to a home. Depending on the products you install, you may improve the value of the home dramatically.

Besides smart tech, buyers are also looking for eco-friendly homes. Consider updating the home with energy-efficient appliances or even new ways to power the home. Solar energy offers a big incentive to buy your home rather than another.

Build Up the Neighborhood

Sometimes the neighborhood is the biggest selling point of a home. Newly constructed neighborhoods may not have the same infrastructure an older part of town offers. Marketing materials should incorporate everything interesting about the surroundings. Sell this prime location to the buyer.

Construction of a new building.

New construction may be intimidating, but an older home with good bones can still compete.

Lower the Price

If no other tactics seem to work, consider lowering the listing price as an incentive for buyers. Rather than looking at the home as a finished product, those who buy at a lower price can make their own improvements to the home so it suits their needs.

Get Educated

Real estate CE offers an excellent way to update your knowledge about listing those hard-to-sell homes. Each state has different options for education, so choose your state now to get started.

Couple being handed keys.

The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Real Estate Professional

Real estate professionals often boast rewarding and lucrative careers, but the initial period of starting out in any new field can be tricky. In fact, the first few years of working as a real estate agent are often the most difficult.

If you are thinking about starting a new career in real estate, you may be considering the pros and cons of doing so. Even if you have already begun to pursue real estate continuing education, you may be curious. These lists will help you establish expectations.

The Pros of Becoming a Real Estate Professional

Education – One of the most significant benefits of becoming a real estate professional is the opportunity to learn. Real estate continuing education is a requirement of maintaining your license, but this will encourage you to stay up to date with current trends and changing regulations. You are never lost in your industry.

Flexibility –  When you are a real estate professional, you can set your own schedule. You do not have to work from 9 to 5, which can be difficult to do if you have other responsibilities. You can still take care of family members or go to school while you work.

Quick Start
 – Depending on your state, it may take a matter of only a few weeks or months before you can begin working as a real estate agent. Once you take the required coursework and receive your license, you are eligible to work.

High Annual Earning Potential
 – You are not limited to an hourly wage or specific salary when you work in real estate. You can often get back what you invest in your business. While most real estate agents earn a median salary of about $36,000, top producers can earn upwards of $100,000.

Emotional Rewards –  One of the biggest perks of being a real estate agent is being able to help people buy new homes. For many people, this is the largest purchase they will ever make during their lifetime. You get to be a part of it.

Expertise –  When you become a real estate agent, you must become an expert in your community. You learn about every nook and cranny of your environment, introducing you to some hidden gems.

The Cons of Becoming a Real Estate Professional

Difficult –  Of course, becoming a real estate professional is no cake walk. You must be willing to put in work to enjoy the rewards of this industry. You are the person in charge of marketing your services.

Real estate professional

If you want to become a real estate agent, you have to be willing to put in the work.

Isolation –  Many new real estate agents express some feelings of isolation in the beginning. Some of these feelings are linked to being an independent contractor rather than an employee.

Social Expense –  Long hours are often necessary for the new real estate agent. For instance, you will have to build your own lists of leads, which could mean meeting with potential clients regularly. You may be meeting several times each week.

Be Ready to Pursue a Real Estate Career

Whether you are first thinking about becoming a real estate agent or you are already working in the industry, looking into real estate continuing education options is never a bad idea. You can choose your state now to learn more about local requirements.

Grey house with a wheel chair ramp at the entrance.

How to Best Serve Real Estate Clients with Disabilities

As a real estate agent, you may already know that your clients often possess specific desires. Additionally, many clients will also have particular requirements. Individuals living with disabilities often require homes that meet their special needs. Even if you have real estate training under your belt, you may benefit from developing a better understanding of these needs.

Understand the Fair Housing Act

According to the CDC, an estimated 22 percent of Americans live with some sort of disability. These disabilities may be related to vision, hearing, mobility, cognition, and other matters linked with serious physical and mental health disorders. Many people need some extra assistance contending with issues related to independent living and self-care.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the housing industry based on factors that include disabilities. As a real estate agent, you must understand the regulations in place to ensure that you do not discriminate against an individual with a disability who is shopping for a home. Extra real estate training can help refresh you on this topic.

Know Which Terms May Be Loaded

Clients with disabilities extend beyond baby boomers, and client requests regarding disabilities have increased approximately 20 percent according to some real estate agents. For this reason, you may need to brush up on the lingo real estate agents are using. Some terms may have different meanings when you are talking to somebody with disabilities. For instance, saying that a home is “a short walk to” a local mall does not mean the same thing to an individual who has a mobility limitation.

Refer Clients to Available Resources

Different resources are available to individuals with disabilities buying homes. You can provide your clients with excellent service by referring them to the different programs available, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Veterans Affairs’ Special Housing department.

Being able to refer your clients to local contractors is another valuable service you can provide. Clients may require modifications to a home, and your relationships with the right contractors may help them understand how much renovations and rebuilds are going to cost them.

Real estate training

Many home modifications are simple, whereas others may require total rebuilds. Talk to your clients to learn about their specific needs.

Ask Clients about their Needs

Some clients have severe restrictions whereas others require just a few changes to a home. You are wise to ask your clients about any potential restrictions rather than make assumptions.

Common special needs for clients with disabilities may include proximity to public transportation or a large parking space. Some clients may require that an entire kitchen is modified so that the counters sit lower, for example. Sit down with your clients to develop a plan of action for looking at homes that meet their needs.

Continue Educating Yourself

With the help of real estate training, you can better understand the needs of your clients. Not only must you appeal to clients in need of your skills and resources, but you must also follow through with your promises. Education can help you do just that. Start your training today!

Yellow taxis on a street with skyscrapers in the background.

Tips on Selling a Difficult Home

Just when you think the seller’s market is working in your favor, you may realize that some homes just aren’t as easy to sell as others. Fortunately, you need not be dismayed. As you will learn in real estate continuing education, even the quirkiest homes have potential owners out there looking for them. You simply need to know how to find them.

What Makes a Home Hard to Sell?

Many homes garner a reputation for being a hard sell. For instance, homes on a busy street may not appeal to buyers with young children or pets.

A home with bad “bones” is also a difficult home to sell. If a home has too much work to be done at a high price, most buyers are not going to be interested.

Outdated features are difficult to sell. For example, a home with an outdated kitchen and old cabinetry is not going to go for the same price as another home in the neighborhood with a newly renovated cooking space. Additionally, a home with only one small bathroom is not going to appeal to most buyers either.

One way to appeal to buyers is to revamp a home so that it allows buyers to overlook a potential fault. For instance, a home on a busy street may need to see an increase in curb appeal. Hire a landscaper, install a picket fence, or plant shrubs to create an attractive barrier.

You can also consider the home’s condition. What needs to be fixed up? Could you spruce up the walls with a neutral color? Does the home need a deep cleaning? Each of these factors requires careful consideration.

How to Sell an Unsellable Home

If you are struggling with a home you feel is unsellable, you have options. As you learn in real estate continuing education, understanding trends and regulations in your area is critical. You must learn how to analyze a property, the neighborhood, and what kinds of homes are hot on the market at this time.

Red brick building with green shutters.

With a bit of care and attention, real estate agents can sell a home that feels unsellable.

Next, know the right price to ask for the home. Mispricing is an easy mistake that even seasoned real estate agents make. Local research and comparison can be a great help for situations like these.

Also, keep in mind that the real estate agent’s role matters. As an agent, focus on offering quality and full-time dedication. Provide ideas for promotions and establish yourself as an expert in the industry. Set up frequent open houses to get clients in to look at the home rather than rely on assumptions and impressions.

Finally, take some time to develop a better property listing. The property description is linked to the property’s sellability. With your listing, be sure to include high-quality photos, even hiring a professional if necessary. A strong description and catchy headline are vital to attracting potential clients, but a promotional video can help highlight the better features of a difficult home.

Real estate continuing education is one key to learning how to sell homes like these. Real estate classes can help you, no matter where you work. Choose your state now!

Woman sitting on her couch drinking coffee and looking at her tablet.

What Real Estate Pros Should Know About Smart Home Technology

Technology has led us to a point where innovations seem a common occurrence. What started as the clapper, a device that allows you to turn on the lights without even getting out of bed, has now evolved into the smart home.

Real estate agents are beginning to see these smart homes hit the market, and professionals are discovering that they still have a lot still to learn. Is real estate CE progressing fast enough? What do real estate agents need to know about smart home tech?

What Is a Smart Home?

Nearly half of homeowners either owned some type of smart home technology or intended to invest in it as of 2016. A smart home contains a variety of electronics connected to the Internet. Devices may include thermostats, entertainment systems, security cameras, motion sensors, appliances, sprinklers, locks, and even garage doors. Most people feel that having simply one type of smart tech does not mean you have a smart home.

Buyers are willing to pay more for certain smart home technology in their homes, especially when the buyers are millennials. One thing to keep in mind is that technology changes quickly. Smart tech today may be old news in just a few years.

What Do Real Estate Agents Need to Know about Smart Homes?

Approximately 81 percent of buyers have stated that they would likely purchase a smart home, but real estate agents need to know more about smart home tech than where devices are in the home to land the sale. Sales agents may need to point out different features associated with smart technology as well as how to use them.

Woman checking her home digital thermostat.

Having access to smart home technology can impact the sale. Consider your role in showing the benefits devices provide.

First, always check with sellers to first ensure which technology will be staying in the home. Sometimes sellers want to take certain items with them. Include details about which devices are staying in the sales contract. Otherwise, you may promise something to the buyer that cannot come to fruition.

Real estate agents should also be knowledgeable about how smart home technology can reduce costs. For instance, how much money on a heating or cooling bill will a smart thermostat save? What savings are available for individuals who use a smart pool cleaner or filter? Buyers want these details up front.

Next time you host an open house, consider including cards with detailed information about the smart tech near each device. Professional cards with information allow clients to better understand the gadgets, and many will be impressed when you can show them how the devices work. Clients looking at a home may become frustrated if they cannot figure out how to use the technology.

Finally, consider pursuing additional real estate CE. Continuing education may involve receiving a smart home certification you can use to show buyers and sellers that you know exactly what you are talking about. Are you ready to learn more about smart home tech? Start your training today!

Door knob with a real estate lock box.

What You Need to Know About Staying Safe in Your Real Estate Business

As much as we might like to think that the rest of the world has our best interests in mind, the world can be quite dangerous at times. All too many real estate agents believe that their experience indicates they will always be safe on the job.

Fortunately, you can take some steps to stay free from harm when you work. Even with proper real estate training, you might be missing some key tips. While the U.S. Department of Labor considers real estate sales and leasing to be hazardous in some ways, the industry still lacks an oversight or enforcement team similar to OSHA.

Lack of standardization has led to some unsafe practices, but now you can take action. Take some careful steps to avoid the most significant hazards associated with your profession.

Consider Signing Up for a Safety Program

Real estate professionals often run workshops and courses to help you continue learning about safety issues in the real estate world. These classes are often more beneficial than standard safety courses because they are geared toward real estate professionals like you.

In courses run by actual real estate agents, you also have the opportunity to hear real stories. You can also learn from people who have been in your shoes and faced similar dilemmas.

Develop a Plan for Showing Properties

If you show properties by yourself, be sure to develop a plan of action. To start, only show properties during the daylight hours.

Before showing a property to a client or prospective buyer, make sure to take identification. Most real estate agents prefer to make a photocopy of the client’s driver’s license ahead of time. Leave the copies somewhere somebody else in the office knows to look.

When you arrive at the site of your next showing, take a quick note of what is happening in the area. Park in a spot that is well-lit and where you cannot become blocked in by another vehicle.

Real estate agents are also wise to create a distress code or phrase with somebody either back at the office or at home. Establish a plan of action to take if you find yourself in a situation where you need to use the code.

Miniature yellow house with chains and lock on it.

Real estate agents may spend a lot of time considering home security, but courses now teach safety lessons for the real estate practice itself.

Understand Possible Technological Risks

Not all risks facing real estate agents and their clients are physical. Fraud is a major issue all agents should understand. In fact, you would be wise to create a fraud alert for any credit cards or bank accounts in your name.

One step you can take against fraud is to shred all mail and old paperwork. Ensure that your information is not easy to discern, but also that your clients are protected from scams involving theft of old documents.

Real estate agents should also be aware of phishing scams via email. Phishing scams involve asking you to click on a link and log in with your credentials, but the link will not be legitimate. Instead, scammers will take your password and log in for themselves.

Take Care of Yourself & Your Clients

As a real estate agent, training is your best friend. Stay up to date with safety techniques and real estate guidelines that keep you safe on the job with continuing education courses available online. Start your training today!