The RockyRoad to Real Estate Investment

The path to the perfect real estate investment can be rocky: watch your step.

Like climbing a mountain, finding the “perfect” real estate investment requires your full attention and navigation skills. To be successful, Real Estate is a field that typically requires seasoned professionals at the wheel. Through experience, successes, and failures, these professionals have learned how to make the right decisions, and to strike at the most opportune times.

As someone who has been in this business for many years, it is fair to say that I haven’t met many “natural-born” real estate investors. What I see most is first-time investors with little experience, who have relied mostly on second-hand accounts of what it takes to be a successful real estate investor. Although they’ve yet to make their first purchase,they can rattle off numbers as if they were to the manner born.

Fair enough: No one wants to be thought of as uninformed, inexperienced, or foolish. But that’s often the result when I ask, “How much to you plan to make?”and am met with silence, or more numbers that aren’t grounded in realistic expectations.

On an average day, I receive all types of calls: Some concern cheap property that someone wants to purchase and flip; Some are“what if’s” (“What if I got the property for 50k less?”); Some—and by far, the most common—concern foreclosures that“I found online. I want to buy them, fix them up, and resell them.”

I learned long ago to take every call, no matter how ‘silly’ the question. I also learned to do my best to understand why the client thinks a deal is right for him or her. I once received a call about a piece of property in Atlanta from a man who was driving his car on the 405 freeway in California. Surfing the web for deals while knowing little about your market is as dangerous as surfing the web and driving.

Luring unsuspecting investors has become a business in itself. We see signs on street corners: Income Generating Property, Investors Dream, Instant Equity—all scams created to encourage the unsuspecting and uninformed to drop their money on losing properties.

Before people go the investor route, they need to ask themselves important questions, things like, “What are my goals?” and “What specifically needs to happen in order for me to reach my goals?”

These questions are rarely asked when people make the decision to get into investing, but once that decision to invest has been made, these questions must be answered. And the answers should come from people who are experts in the field with specific insight into the demand for homes, the cost of construction repairs, lending attitudes from mortgage companies, neighborhood trends, etc. This invaluable information takes time to gather and review.

When deciding to become a real estate investor, keep these tips to keep in mind.

TIPS:

  • Know your market
  • Know your financial parameters
  • Have a plan in place
  • Calculate your risk

Merrick Damon Williams
Owner/Broker
MerrickDamon Residential Brokerage
Georgia, Florida, Costa Rica
Direct 470.296.0116
Fax 404.745.0665

Modern Realty, Old Fashioned Principles

There’s a downside to living in a society in which endless information from the internet is available (unless you live in North Korea) at the touch of a button. As a real estate professional,it has become increasing difficult to have a conversation with a client without them first emailing or texting me information they had found online.

There’s nothing wrong with having informed clients, in fact, the correctly-informed ones are a real estate pro’s best friend. But there’s a difference between an intelligent and informed client, and one who obsesses over every internet rumor and follows the trails of every online “expert.”

For example, a new client of mine became so obsessed with information she found online, that she would “fact” check every piece of information before she could make a decision. She treated Google, the county tax records, Zillow, and Realtor websites like they were her best friends and close financial advisors.

This client would not only send me text messages about listings,she also included images, driving directions, and fun facts, like when the house was built.

All this texting was overwhelming, and especially to an agent who knew exactly what she needed. There finally came a point when I had to say, “Wait a minute. I have been in the business for 20 years, which makes me the expert, not the uninformed, questionable, and outdated information you’re sending me.”

I built my business on three core principles: Trust, Loyalty, and Integrity.

Trust is the sort of thing you build from the bottom up. It begins on the first day a client meets their agent. You have to listen from the start to every word they say. This is incredibility important to your relationship with him or her, because it sets the stage for future loyalty (a “conspiracy among friends,” if you will).

If they don’t believe you can trust that agent, they will be reluctant to share their true motivation for selling or buying a house. Trust is the first step to opening up real dialog, and so trust takes longer to build. But the benefits of working with someone who trusts you are worth the time you put into the process.

Loyalty springs from Trust. Believing that information that they shared with their agent won’t be used against them is liberating for a client and forges bonds of Loyalty.

Loyalty cuts both ways. A client is more likely to feel loyal to someone who is more interested in a long-term relationship than making a fast dollar. Pointing out your legitimate concerns about a property is both sincere and a way to impart your genuine concern for your client.

Integrity is what keeps everything in balance. It is merely believing in the Golden Rule, and putting it into practice: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you.”

There is rarely an argument at closing time if both parties feel they were treated well, and with respect. The reverse is just as likely to spark the kind of negative experience that is potentially damaging to client relationships, and avoidable.

When building client relationships, keep these tips to keep in mind:

TIPS:

  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Integrity

Merrick Damon Williams
Owner/Broker
MerrickDamon Residential Brokerage
Georgia, Florida, Costa Rica
Direct 470.296.0116
Fax 404.745.0665

Reasons Why the Real Estate Market is Here to Stay

Take a deep breath, everyone, and relax: the real estate market is here to stay.

Yes, Donald Trump is leading the Republican pack, Chelsea Clinton is old enough to be having her second baby, and the price of gas has dropped decently below the $2 per gallon mark.

End times? Maybe so.

But as our world continues to turn, and so does the real estate market, the good news is that the market is experiencing what promises to be a slow-but-steady continuation of more good news.

What happened? Well, after the market crashed in 2009, much of the “Get Rich Quick” mentality that had swamped the real estate industry evaporated into thin air, and rightly so. We also witnessed a historic collapse of large lending banks and mortgage institutions under the pressure of a balloon-inflated market that was driven by greed and “creative” financing, to put it mildly.

Working as a real estate sales manager in Atlanta during the Good Years, it was really hard for most people, me included, to envision the approaching recession. Even more difficult to predict was the housing shift that was about to take place.

Like many professionals, I was both an unknowing victim of the collapse that was happening (right before my eyes), and an active contributor to it. It’s hard to see danger looming when the money is pouring in.

Were there red flags? Sure. The fact that people with bottomed-out credit scores were purchasing houses and getting new car loans approved should have signaled a huge systemic problem. But when the cash is flowing, it only pushes my determination to go out and sell more homes.

With hindsight, we now know that unscrupulous investors and firms manipulated the system to take advantage of the entire U.S. market, and despite warning signs that pointed to the impending collapse, there was no regulatory follow-up; no one on Wall Street, lenders or banks, was willing to make the hard choices until it was too late. Ka-boom!

The catalog of the names of the victims of foreclosed homes and destroyed credit scores is too long to recount here. Many lost their homes, jobs, investments, and retirement savings.

And yet, the fact remains that through tough times and good ones, and especially now in this increasingly better market, Americans love real estate. That’s cause for optimism.

I am often approached by consumers, mortgage lenders, and investors asking me the same question: “Is the market back?”

And my answer is always the same: “Yes!” The market is back, seemingly to stay, so if you’re sitting on the fence, get off it, and go find the deals while you can. Just as in the “Good Old Days,” and what some might now call the “Better Days,” you have to strike when the market is right. Timing, as they say, is everything.

Regardless of trends in the marketplace, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

TIPS:

  • Follow up
  • Timing
  • Stay optimistic

Merrick Damon Williams
Owner/Broker
MerrickDamon Residential Brokerage
Georgia, Florida, Costa Rica
Direct 470.296.0116
Fax 404.745.0665

Pushing Open the Door to Home Ownership

It’s sometimes hard to imagine, but the “American Dream” of homeownership really is within the grasp of almost any person who is willing to do the work and knock on the right doors.

It may take some work, but, like any door, if you keep pushing on the door to homeownership, it will eventually open.

Think about all the times in life when someone slammed a door in your face. True, it’s never a good feeling, but when it happened, were you the type to turn and walk away, or did you continually push until something opened?

When it comes to buying a house, you shouldn’t be surprised if some doors get closed in your face. Purchasing a house is not as easy as just walking in and making an offer. Like everything else in life that’s worthwhile, it takes work.

As most first-time homebuyers quickly learn, the process of buying a first home can be tedious. It’s a very difficult process that begins even before you start to actually shop for a home. The first step is to learn whether you can even afford a home. Home financing is usually an education that’s troubling to come by: Buyers are placed in the grueling position of having to reveal all the intimate details of their financials, and this can be uncomfortable for even the most financially fit among us.

Allowing someone to see how much money you earn, what bills you owe, and what your past credit history looks like is extremely personal. However, this course in the true cost of homeownership is invaluable, as it gives you a firsthand exposure to the importance played by taxes, assessments, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, and all the other obligations that come with
homeownership.

Once these challenges start to appear, it’s easy for the benefits of homeownership to get lost in the mire, but it’s important at this stage to acknowledge the process, and to set clear goals from the
beginning. Don’t get lost or become off-track merely because it’s not as easy walking into a department store and making a purchase. I tell clients not to get distracted by hurdles or by the sound of one door closing, but instead to look for the next one to open. Homes are the most expensive items you will buy in your entire life, so it’s okay to take your time.

Perseverance is another thing that must be factored into the homeownership process. As with most things in life, when times get tough, you have to carry on. Due to the many factors that effect a real estate translation—securing a loan, appraisals, surveys, multiple offers—it is nearly impossible to expect that things will proceed without a single snag.

In our business, many deals are lost due to misinformation, a lack of knowledge, a rush to judgment, and failure to meet deadlines. The wise course is to stay patient and calm when times get rough.

TIPS:

  • Set clear goals
  • Persevere
  • Stay optimistic

Merrick Damon Williams
Owner/Broker
MerrickDamon Residential Brokerage
Georgia, Florida, Costa Rica
Direct 470.296.0116
Fax 404.745.0665

Dream of Success and Plan to Succeed

I was always told as a kid, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” and there is no place where this is truer than in the arena of real estate investing. Because of all the factors that can effect a real estate transaction—finding qualified buyers, performing appraisals, surveys, sifting through multiple offers, the up and down trends, and protecting against fraud—it is nearly possible for any number of things to go wrong on the road to success.

Many deals are lost due to misinformation, inadequate knowledge, and deadlines so, when it comes to investing, it is wise to plan in advance.If your goal is to rehabilitate homes and flip them, then your plan should take into account the time needed for the transaction, the length of time required for building, the cost of construction and any delays, the commissions paid on selling, etc.

These factors many not seem that hard to understand, but if your margins are small because you or your real estate agent failed to take them into account, you could very well lose, and lose big.

There is an entire cable industry devoted to showing us the problems associated with buying fixer-up homes (including the always-entertaining sight of someone losing thousands of dollars in investment).

Knowing your risk will prepare you for making investment choices, but remember there are no guaranteed results in any business. Investing is a risky business, and those who plan to enter the arena should seriously consider how much they can afford to lose. Some investors are big risk-takers, and expect hurdles in order to achieve big rewards. Others prefer a safer course, and are comfortable with smaller returns. Which one are you?

Does the high-risk-high-reward potential of the stock market suit you? Or do you feel more comfortable investing in life insurance and annuities? Whatever your answer, all means do it. If real estate investing is your passion, you should follow your dreams.

But be wary of the temptation to “get-rich-quick,” because rarely do these scenarios pay off. If someone shares ‘insider information’ that will make you ‘instantly rich’, chances are it is part of a pitch to lure you into an ill-conceived investment idea.

Most of the developers who were riding high in the pre-2009 boom had a plan. They researched the market, found potential buyers, scaled the demographic shifts, and weighed all their options with the banks. And still the market collapsed.

But those developers who limited their risk, even when the market was great, are still around today, unlike those who took too large a risk.

No matter the size of the project, treat every deal as an independent transaction. And remember, regardless of the type or size of investment, you have to plan in order to succeed.

Merrick Damon Williams
Owner/Broker
MerrickDamon Residential Brokerage
Georgia, Florida, Costa Rica
Direct 470.296.0116
Fax 404.745.0665

Real Estate Strategy and Investing

My phone rang, and at the other end was someone who can safely be called a risky investor. He was from, and in, California, and at the moment he was barreling down the Pacific Coast Highway, attempting to drive, talk, and surf the web for cheap real estate deals, all at the same time.

That’s not that made him a risky investor. That came from the fact that he was looking to invest in a city that he had never visited, in which he had no human connections, or of which he had any knowledge.

That might sound strange to you, but many otherwise smart people get caught up investing in places about which they know next to nothing. Wrong decision.

Investing in places where you have little or no knowledge of market trends, inventory, future plans for development, construction costs, or the lending climate is like throwing money away. By purchasing property “sight unseen,” you are accepting at face value (only without the “face” part, since you haven’t seen it) all of the hidden unknowns that experienced investors spend time and money studying, the better to make informed decisions.

I’m not simply talking about doing research online. Yes, the internet is helpful for gathering many important facts. But it provides little in the way of“boots on the ground” intelligence about the current buying and selling market, or about who the ideal buyers and sellers are in any given region. That has to be learned firsthand.

There are some great ways for interested investors to learn about a neighborhood. These include determining market trends, visiting the city’s permit office to learn future planning goals, investigating housing prices and rental rates, examining regional demographics, and most important, finding out the job market and prospects for employment in the region.

Most serious investors or people of business would think it ridiculous to build or invest in a market where the jobs are being transferred to another city. Knowing the market is probably the single most important factor on an investor must get a handle.

As a real estate professional, it’s important for me to know how deep are an investor’s pockets, and what are his or her holding parameters. If this sounds unfamiliar to you, chances are you’re not yet ready to become an investor.

Investing often requires more time and money for marketing than most people realize, and these “unseen” potential costs need to be discussed before making the transaction. If an investor doesn’t consider holding cost, repair cost, marketing cost, and factors like downward market trends, then he isn’t prepared for when these expenses cut into the bottom-line profits.

Getting into the business of investing means knowing that purchasing a property is a small piece of the puzzle. If your resources include only enough to make the purchase, you’ll have to consider where the other monies will come from. That’s the foundation of Strategic Real Estate Investing.

Merrick Damon Williams
Owner/Broker
MerrickDamon Residential Brokerage
Georgia, Florida, Costa Rica
Direct 470.296.0116
Fax 404.745.0665

Top Real Estate School In Florida - Header Image

Top Real Estate School In Florida

Are you ready to start your real estate career? Or are you an established associate in need of renewing your license, perhaps even seeking to become a broker? Perhaps you hesitate because other classroom courses seem outdated about technologies used in the industry.

You don’t have to wait or worry to pursue continuing education. At Merrickdamon, our real estate courses will ensure that you reach your highest potential while presenting properties to interested buyers, as well as happiness in your life.

MerrickDamon is the top school of real estate in Florida. Our education courses are thorough to ensure that you are extremely qualified and understand the newest technologies associated with the industry. We instill lifelong habits to ensure that you can remain motivated and manage properties efficiently.

The Values Our School Offers

At MerrickDamon, we believe in self-improvement. Every person is capable of achieving great things, both in and outside of real estate sales. We treat every student equally to help them reach their highest potential.

One of the first steps toward that is determining how to perform at your best every day, in all facets of life. We believe that you take that leap by trying something new, outside of your comfort zone. That could be as simple as finding a hobby that will help you unwind after a long day at work or an outlet by which to manage stress.

The second step is identifying your dreams and career aspirations, and developing a plan for achieving them. You will be happier in life when you know exactly what you want and have a plan on how to read it.

The third step is maintaining motivation. It is easy to get burned out, even from a job that you love. Having strategies to build motivation throughout the workday and seize inspiration to solve problems. This way you avoid losing the joy in your life.

In addition to these steps, we believe in resilience. Real estate is a competitive industry, with dozens of associates and brokers rushing to make that sale. You will face obstacles, and sometimes even losses. The important thing is that you know how to get back up when life and a lost commission knocks you down. MerrickDamon teaches you how to do that.

Build Your Real Estate Career

A qualified student needs to meet several standards to obtain their Florida real estate license. The first is taking a pre-licensing course at an accredited institution and passing the required exam. If you want to become a broker, then you need even more experience when obtaining the education requirements.

You are our top priority. We want to ensure that you learn more than the mandated requirements to obtain your associate or broker’s license. That means you become a well-rounded person that can balance your work and home life.

Get Started With MerrickDamon’s Licensing Courses

MerrickDamon is the perfect school that will provide a well-rounded real estate education, with lessons that you can take home with you. Get our exclusive education training videos and 6 months’ worth of access to RealDax technology.

Contact us today to get started, to schedule your first education course. Let’s make you ace all of your final exams, with one year of instructor support and our full classroom schedule.

Florida Real Estate License Requirements

Florida Real Estate License Requirements

People constantly want to buy houses in Florida. The Sunshine State is renowned for its namesake climate, which is great for retirees and business people seeking refuge from busy work schedules. It’s no surprise that real estate keeps growing, as new and established residents seek condominiums and houses. No one can resist the allure of the Atlantic Ocean breeze wafting onto the beach or the hustle and bustle of Miami and Orlando.

Not everyone can, however, host an open house for a property that belongs to another owner. Selling your own house and managing the sales is perfectly legal. To make a living out of selling houses, however, you need a real estate license. That way you can hold a position as a real estate agent, associate, or even a broker if you complete additional requirements. With the lucrative field growing, you can become a very successful agent.

Basic Requirements For Becoming Licensed In Florida

You can’t skip any of these steps. There are no shortcuts to becoming a real estate agent. Some requirements take more time than others, depending on the paperwork you already have.

First, you need to be a legal adult to hold a license. If you are eighteen years of age or older, then you already pass the first requirement, but you also need a certified high school diploma or equivalent. An alternative diploma is not accepted at all institutions; double-check if you need to pass the GED as well. You must have a Social Security number as well.

Continuing Education

Florida Real Estate License RequirementsOnce you have your 18 years, diploma and Social Security in Order, you need to take a minimum of 63 hours worth of pre-licensing courses. These 63 hours need to be completed within two years of you applying for the license, and the program has to be certified and approved by the state. MerrickDamon has several courses that you can use to reach that high grade.

Then submit your application for a real estate license, and prepare to pay the $89 USD application fee. Also prepare to be fingerprinted and entered into the state system of real estate agents.

You then need to pass the Florida sales associate exam, which Pearson Vue administers. A 75 or higher score is required. Or take the Florida Real Estate Licensing exam and receive a minimum score of 30. Either way, you need to put in the work, study, and pass the test fairly.

After passing the test, activate your license as quickly as possible. That way it won’t expire. Then you can get started on selling properties and working for agencies.

When you need to renew your license, prepare to take a 45-min post-licensing course. That way you can brush up on knowledge and learn about new laws or trends. If you maintain that, you can keep your license for years.

Learn More About Florida Real Estate Law From MerrickDamon

MerrickDamon is a renowned real estate school that will help students with associate and broker licensing. We have years of experience in assisting you to become a fully licensed agent or real estate broker, and you will become the best in the field.

Contact us today to schedule your first course. You can pass that final exam and successfully complete all of the requirements.

Welcome to the NFL: Becoming A Professional Real Estate Agent

There are lots of questions that come up when people think about becoming a professional real estate agent. (“How do you get started in the business?” “Do I need to work with a broker?” “How much [money] do agents make a year?” “Can I make money selling real estate part-time?” etc.)

For many people who are considering a new career, or starting a side business to earn additional revenue, becoming a real estate agent has a lot to attract it.

Although becoming a realtor sounds great if you enjoy working with people and seeing interesting houses, it’s not the dream job some might imagine it to be. There’s a common misconception that real estate agents earn loads of money for doing little-to-no work.

The truth is a lot different, and there are some things to consider and commit to if you’re serious about starting down the path to selling real estate.

The first thing to do if you want to sell real estate is get your license. Some people prefer the flexibility of online classes while others do better in a classroom setting. Either way, plan to study during and after, to prepare yourself to pass the state exam.

Once you’ve finished the class you can take the state’s official test to become a licensed real estate salesperson. The test isn’t cheap, so be sure to study before signing up for the exam.

New agents usually work under the guidance of a real estate broker. Brokers provide marketing support and legal protection for agents. Before you decide where to hang your business sign, so to speak, it’s a good idea to interview with at least three different brokers, to get a sense of how they work.

Some agents enjoy working out of a large brokerage with well-known company name recognition. Others prefer mom-and-pop operations because of flexibility in terms of hours, ability to work from home, and the freedom to choose their own vendors.

The Brokerage Umbrella

Although you’ll be selling under the umbrella of a brokerage, a real estate agent is an independent contractor. That means you will need to budget money for advertising and other start up expenses.

It’s smart also to plan for annual real estate association dues, as well as membership fees in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Most rookie agents work with buyers rather than taking listings. That level of house-hunting will expend a lot of gas driving around town. Take these expenses into account also.

Showing property is usually done in the evenings and on weekends, but it’s not uncommon for buyers to call asking to see a property with just a few hours’ notice.

Like many other sales positions, real estate is a commission-only business. Although the financial rewards for real estate sales can be quite lucrative, an agent may go months without a paycheck. It’s important to learn to budget for that level of variable income.

Commissions are usually paid by property sellers and are negotiable by law. Some agents get 2.5 percent of a contract purchase price and offer out the same to buyers’ agents, but that varies.

But unlike other jobs, a real estate agent or broker has limitless income potential. It isn’t unusual to see some agents who earn over a million dollars a year.

One last thing. Don’t worry if you aren’t what some people consider a “People Person.”

Investors and others who buy or sell property are undertaking one of the most expensive and important journeys of their life.

With hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars at stake, most clients consider trustworthiness, ability, and experience to be far more important than their agent’s personality. Although being sociable never hurts anyone’s real estate career, what you say is usually more important than how you present it.

The ball is in your court.