Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn’t Want You To Know, A Year In Review 2006

During 2006 I have written a number of articles known as the “Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn’t Want You To Know” series which has been a consumer oriented series of information to help home buyers and sellers protect themselves when conducting a real estate transaction. These articles are a natural extension of books I have written known as “Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn’t Want A Home Buyer To Know” and “Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn’t Want A Home Seller To Know”.

The first book written during 1990 was called “Everything A Real Estate Agent Doesn’t Want You To Know” and it had a fair degree of national success, much more than I thought it would, when I introduced it to the media during 1991/92. We sold the book in every state in the U.S. including Alaska, Hawaii and as far as Pakistan and Japan. This was not a bad performance for a self-published under-funded author.

I wrote this book because I was a licensed real estate agent in the state of Ohio and, more importantly, I was a residential mortgage banker for a few years and I saw many home buyers and sellers experience financial damage from dealing with inexperienced and unethical real estate agents. Many of the agents were either totally incompetent or so self interested that they would mislead buyers and sellers, anything to get them to sign a purchase offer or a listing contract. Many of these home buyers and sellers who were cut through the neck and didn’t even realize they were bleeding because they lacked knowledge and insight into how the real estate game is played.

These books have always caused friction between real estate agents and myself because many agents resent the title of the books and the ill conceived premise that my position is that all agents are bad crooked people, which is false. In fact, whenever I did a media gig I always made it a point to clarify this is NOT a blanket indictment against real estate agents. There are good, honest, knowledgeable, full time real estate agents in the business who are highly professional. The problem is they are the minority and not the majority.

The major problem with the real estate industry as a whole is the ease with which a person can get a real estate license. While the educational requirements vary from state to state, in most cases, anybody can get a license to sell real estate in about 90 days. This just doesn’t make sense to me. Consider that many agents are little old women who operate part-time, have no business or selling background, go to school for 30 or 90 days and are licensed to represent home sellers in property transactions from around $50,000.00 and up. I mean, a lawyer has to go to school for seven years to get a license to write a fifty-dollar will or represent somebody in a petty traffic accident. But silly-sally can go to school for 30 days and list a $250,000 house for sale? That does not compute in my mind. What kind of representation will a seller get from a part time agent with one toe in the tub? And the full-time pros know what I am talking about.

I have had many close discussions with agents while I was in the business and the bottom line is that part timers are often the weakest link in getting a deal done, unavailable for showings, etc. The bottom line, part time agents give part time results whether you are a buyer, seller or a full time agent trying to make a living.

And the truth is that most people, especially first time home buyers and sellers don’t know what is going on…not really. How you select an agent to sell a home, the nature of contract law and the negotiable elements of listing contracts, purchase contracts, etc. is way beyond most first time buyers and sellers. The result is that sellers sign stupid long-term listing contracts with the wrong agents and the wrong companies and buyers pay way more for property then they would if they had more insight into the workings of real estate transactions involving commissioned real estate sales agents. I didn’t originate the problem, I just identified the problems and the solutions for home buyers and sellers.

CAVEAT EMPTOR is legal jargon which means “buyer beware” and it means what it says. Whether you are a home seller or home buyer, you better know what you are doing when you are making decisions and signing contracts because, it is your duty to know and ignorance is no excuse under the law. If you do a stupid real estate deal, it’s your fault. Which is a shame because buying or selling a home is a BIG business decision. It is a business transaction composed of people, emotions, contracts and cash and those are all the ingredients for legal and financial pain if you don’t know what you are doing, and most people don’t. And how are people supposed to get access to this information that will protect their legal and financial interests before they buy or sell a home anyway?

THE POWER OF THE NAR OVER GOVERNMENT AND MEDIA

What many people don’t know is the National Association of Realtors  (NAR) is one of America’s largest special interest groups who have incredible lobbying power over our politicians to write real estate laws that benefit the real estate industry, not consumers. Thus, the caveat emptor clause… state and federal real estate laws are written in the interests of your local real estate company and not you.

Something else people are not aware of is the tremendous advertising influence the NAR has over print and electronic media to manipulate the news you read, hear and see because of their advertising dollar power. There is an article written by Elizabeth Lesley of the Washington Journalism review called Demand Happy News And Often Get It and it exposes the corruption and manipulation of the news consumers count on to make decisions about buying or selling a home. I strongly urge everyone to read this article.

Real estate is like the stock market in some ways. When you hear of a fad like “flipping” you are probably at the tail end of that gimmick bubble, kind of like the dot.com days… everybody jumped in because they thought it was hot and it was really the end of the dot.com bubble. A lot of people have gotten caught with their pants down on the flipping angle.

Home foreclosures are up across the U.S. because real estate agents and the lenders who cater to them (the real estate industry has tremendous influence over the lending industry because the are the source of so many home loans) have qualified otherwise unqualified borrowers, by putting them in gimmick loans. In the mad dash to milk the market, people have been steered in to interest only loans, negative amortization loans or attractive teaser loans like low interest adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and other stupid financing that is NOT in the best interest of the buyer. That’s why many of the foreclosures are happening. Naïve and gullible people were sold a bill of goods based on unrealistic property values. The market got hyped and the agents and lenders were right there to exploit buyers and sellers. Did some people make money? Sure. But many people have found themselves against the wall with too much “house”, too big a payment and a housing market that looks pretty bleak for a while…

All it takes is one ripple in our fragile economy to turn the real estate market into a landslide. Here’s a news flash: The economy is on shaky ground. The economy has been kept strong by housing sales and corporate profits and both are an illusion. The real measure of the economy is durable goods, like automotive sales, which are in the tank causing massive restructuring and layoffs. People can’t afford to buy cars because they are scraping the enamel off their teeth trying to make house payments…

So, whoever you are, and you read my real estate articles, keep in mind that the reason I have done what I have done, and will do what I do, is because I am on the side of the consumer. I am on the side of the person who wants to be a better, more informed consumer. I am on the side of the person who wants to save a few thousand on their real estate transaction by being smart and on a more level playing field with real estate agents.

And you know what? By educating people and teaching them how to do deals more intelligently, how to weed out the part timer agents from the pros and save a few bucks in the process, I am actually helping the professional full time agents. The truth is that honest agents won’t have a problem with my position because it will get rid of the riff raff.

Thanks for reading!

Jim Hart

Copyright © 2006 James W. Hart, IV All Rights Reserved

Houston Real Estate Brokers

There are a number of Houston real estate brokers who are all willing to help interested clients. Major Houston real estate players include John Daugherty Realtors, Martha Turner Properties, and Greenwood King. Although most real estate companies are closed by brokers from these companies, there is no question that other real estate brokers may also offer great deals. Still, there are deceptive real estate brokers who are only keen in making money out of every business deal they make.

Houston has a local real estate brokers association of which credible realtors and realties are members. The association protects both real estate brokers and prospective buyers alike from fraudulent brokers. Consumers are free to check on the list of real estate brokers made available by the association on whether or not their brokers are deceptive. The local Houston real estate brokers association also offers free home ownership assistance as well as counseling to low to moderate income generating individuals searching for real estate deals in Houston. The association also encourages friendly competition among Houston realtors through healthy exchange of selling strategies and ideas that amount to reasonable and popular real estate deals.

Houston real estate brokers all believe in the founding goal of their association: Every consumer must be ensured of equal housing opportunities, and all possible buyers must not be subject to discriminatory real estate practices. This springs from the fact that minority races were banned from equal housing opportunities in earlier days, confining them to insubstantial properties at unfavorable locations. The founding of the real estate brokers association improved the then unjust treatment to African Americans residing in Houston and provided them opportunities to better qualify themselves and make it good in the real estate industry.

Certified Houston real estate brokers continue to promote equal housing opportunities by offering the best real estate deals. Consumers are sure to find contentment in the properties acquired from these brokers.

Houston Real Estate Appraisals

The Texan city of Houston is a famous Wild West location. The Houston real estate market is an unpredictable business venture and has a high rate of fluctuation. This is largely because real estate trends are governed by local factors as well as global recession. Houston real estate revolves around residential and commercial property. Residential properties have revenue generation potential and are therefore considered investment property. Real estate also covers fixtures, built up and natural resources found with the particular property. Prior to any real estate undertaking such as rentals, leases, purchase, and sale, Houston real estate appraisers provide estimates on the value of specific real estate property.

The need for real estate appraiser services is more frequent than other real estate services. This is because Houston real estate appraisals are undertaken when property is to be taxed, insured, mortgaged, or leased. Appraisals are obligatory when clients declare bankruptcy, foreclose on property, undergo divorce proceedings, or terminate a business. It is not possible to close a property deal unless it has been appraised. If the procedure is eliminated, clients have no idea regarding their property value and cannot argue their property price points.

Apart from providing Houston real estate appraisals, these professionals may even provide information on Austin real estate appraisers offer related services. This includes testifying in court if necessary and acting as consultants and providing suggestions regarding property matters. Houston real estate appraisal estimates are reached by adhering to a set pattern and detailed investigation in order to guarantee a fair approximation. At first, Houston real estate appraisers put in place a written report of a concerned property and then create further reports based upon detailed checklists and analyze it. Appraisers obtain reports from related counties and study sales trends of surrounding real estate properties. When dealing with commercial real estate, Houston real estate appraisals are based up on income proofs, working costs, property tax and building repair costs. In order to reach up on accurate estimates, they need to have access to original property registration details and measure an existing property.

Houston Real Estate Companies

It is difficult to understand the tricks and trends of Houston real estate deals. For this reason, when clients contemplate Houston real estate purchase, it is advisable to work along with real estate companies or brokers who are equipped to find affordable deals that fit in an individual’s budget. Real estate encompasses commercial and residential property. Certain residential real estate purchases are made keeping in mind, their revenue generation potential. As such, it gets complicating for a layman to comprehend options, calculations, and price considerations of real estate.

Houston real estate companies could be listed firms with multiple employees. Individuals may also choose to work on their own as independent agents or brokers. In case of firms, employees may be likely to receive a regular salary. Their actual source of income is proportionately related to the number of successful deals they are able to close. Houston real estate companies inform prospective clients well in advance about their service charges, terms, and conditions. A large number of real estate agents have regular jobs elsewhere and this business is their secondary source of income. Other individuals treat their real estate jobs as part time options.

Houston real estate companies undertake most dealings pertaining to property. This includes, lease, rentals, sale purchase and appraisals. Real estate companies offer all of these services at varying service charges. Income for real estate companies is entirely dependent upon luck and conversion rate of deals. Since this business is dependent upon local factors, the price of adjacent neighborhoods, inflation, and global trends, the business is considered highly volatile.

Most Houston real estate companies provide special listings regarding types of property. Companies often offer online information that is easy to access. When deciding to join a Houston real estate company, interested individuals may enroll with a real estate school that provides certified courses. People who do not opt for real estate education may also start practicing with a reputed company or agent.