(Douglas Frank holds a BA degree in English from Rutgers University and is a licensed realtor with over twenty years experience. Doug works with Prudential Carruthers Realtors in Fairfax, Virginia. He also has his Home Improvement License and owns a number of investment properties including houses, townhomes, and condos . Doug and his wife and two sons live in Fairfax, Virginia. (Opinions expressed here are … only opinion!)
Dear Doug: I just passed my real estate exam and I have no idea what my next step is. How do I find a Real Estate Company that will take me on? Is there some sort of training offered for newbies like me?
Dear New Graduate: Congratulations on passing the real estate exam. Fortunately, the test is not that difficult, so most people pass and start working right away. Maybe if it were more difficult, then we would see better prepared agents–but we’ll leave that for someone else’s column…The next step for you would be to start interviewing Brokers at different real estate offices, and see who you would feel good working with. The Broker runs the office. The Realtors work under his/her supervision. Choosing an office that fits your personality, your strengths, and your weaknesses, is very important. Take a tour. Go in for several interviews. Ask the Broker for the name of a few agents who work there, and see how they feel about the office. Is there further training? Are office sales leads given out? And if so, how? Will you be left to fend for yourself? Or is there a mentor program that is set up to ease you into the business? What is the rate of agent turn-over in the office? This business is notorious for rapidly turning over new agents who come into the industry thinking it will be easy, and leave quickly, when they find out how difficult it can be. Once you choose an office, I suggest that you watch, listen, and try to team up with an experienced agent who can show you how to be successful in any market.
A word of caution: Do not join an office where you do not get support. If this is all new to you, you will have plenty of questions. In our business, you do a lot of learning on the run. However, you will need a resource person–be it the Broker or an agent who you team up with– that you can turn to when you need help. You don’t want to be in an office where you are completely on your own. And, you do not want an office where agents see you as a competitor. Believe me, there is enough business out there for all of us. After several years of experience, you may be okay going at it on your own. However, when you are first starting out, a mentoring program, and an office of helpful agents, will make your transition into this exciting industry a much easier and more fruitful one.
Finally, you are choosing a tough time to enter the field. If you can survive in this market, you will flourish in an easier one. When you choose an office, watch the Top Producers, and see what works for them. I have discovered, over the years, that this is a relationship business and the sooner you learn to build relationships in this arena, the faster you will become a successful agent.
Good luck with your business. I have found this to be an exciting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding field, with new situations to be faced every day.
Dear Doug: My wife and I put an offer on a house but were notified that her credit score is not good. I am not an American citizen, so we were really counting on her being able to put the loan in her name. We really want this house and make good money. Is it possible to get a friend or family member to co-sign a mortgage loan to get approved?
Dear Hopeful Home Buyer with Questionable Credit: Congratulations on finding the home of your choice. Now the fun begins. It is time to quickly find a loan officer with whom to sit down and review your options. The credit score criteria that is currently being used by banks varies widely from bank to bank. Yes, they are stricter now, due to all the “bad” loans that were issued in the recent past. However, there are still a lot of discrepancies between banks and who they loan to. One bank currently advertises that they will give you a loan with a 500+ credit score. Another won’t talk to you if your wife’s score is under 620. How low is your wife’s score? Get on the phone and explain to the lender of your choice what you know about her credit, and see what is on their loan menu. While you say your wife’s credit score is “not good”, that leaves a lot of room for a number of mortgages that could still work. Only after carefully examining all of your documents: credit scores, type of citizenship, assets, employment history, bank accounts, etc., can an educated determination be made as to your options. FHA loans allow co-borrowers, but that won’t help if your score is too low. Regarding your American citizenship: There are loan programs for different types of visa programs that you should explore.
Finally, if you and your wife can truly not qualify at this time, there are also rent-to-own, lease-option, land contracts, and other assorted financing methods that you could use to get into that Home Of Your Choice.
Good luck, and don’t take “no” for an answer.