Should You Become A Home Inspector? Read This First

magnifying-glass-red-houseAfter 25 years of “crawl spacing” (a friendly term that my friends and I call what we do), I sometimes ask myself why I love the home inspection profession so much.  If you think about the yucky stuff, like crawling around in hot attics and various spider-filled tight squeezes, you might wonder what’s wrong with me.

I asked my friend and colleague Corey why he thought we did it.  He said it’s because we have “FSO disease.”  We love to Figure Stuff Out, including why “stuff” doesn’t work. I can’t tell you how many times I walk by something and it just doesn’t seem right.  I will stare, test, prod and poke it until I figure out what’s wrong with the component I’m looking at.

Another reason I enjoy my work is that we get to use cool tools.  I purchased a thermal imager to help with my inspection business.  Today, I was shooting the ceilings of a condo and found a blue spot on the ceiling in a bedroom.  It didn’t even dawn on me that a register was missing in the room.  It turns out that the ductwork was placed to the point of discharge, but the register was never installed. Someone lived there for four years without heat or AC in the room.

But the biggest and most important reason I do this work is the feeling I get when I’m doing my closing interview with my clients and showing them all the issues that are present in the home they’re about to purchase.  When I finish, they look me in the eye, shake my hand and say “thank you” with the most sincerity. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy that feeling.  I help families with the largest purchase in their lives, and that’s pretty cool.

If you, or someone you know, would like to become an official member of the “FSO” community, please attend our upcoming Home Inspector Informational Seminar.  This no-cost seminar will cover the requirements for obtaining a home inspector license, what it’s like to enter this rewarding career field, and the tools that are used in this exciting profession.

My name is Charles Bellefontaine, and I love crawl spacing!

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Charles Bellefontaine is a veteran home inspector and licensed Illinois home inspector instructor. You can find out more about him at www.thehomeinspectors.com.

NMLS Reminders for a Successful CE Season

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According to the NMLS, the number-one question they receive from Mortgage Loan Originators is, “Do I need to do CE?” If you’re not sure, you should log into NMLS to review your education requirements. Your Course Completion Record will indicate whether you still need to earn Continuing Education this year. The NMLS has prepared a quick guide to help you navigate your record.

The NMLS also reminds MLOs that:

  • You may not complete the same CE course as last year.
  • Pre-license education courses do not count toward CE. However, MLOs do not need to take continuing education in the same calendar year in which they took an NMLS-approved 20-hour pre-license course.
  • Nearly half of all state agencies have a state-specific CE requirement. See the
    NMLS 2016 State-Specific Education Requirements Chart for the number of hours and other requirements.

  • Several state agencies have early CE or renewal deadlines. Check the state-specific education requirements chart for details.

Real Estate Institute offers top-rated 2016 CE courses in all three formats: Classroom, Live Webinar and Online, Self-Study. Try our courses and find out what it’s like to take CE that’s relevant and interesting.


5 Reasons to Become a Real Estate Agent


A career in real estate can be rewarding. Agents have varied backgrounds ranging from corporate America to teaching. If you’re thinking about trying something different, you’ve chosen a great time to do it. Tuition is low, and the real estate market is growing. If that isn’t enough to convince you, here are 5 reasons you should get a real estate license – NOW.

#1 Work As Much or As Little As You Want

Selling real estate doesn’t have to be a full-time job. You can work full time and enjoy unlimited earning potential, or you can work part time and earn enough to make it worthwhile. You won’t be chained to a desk all day, every day. Many residential agents choose to work from home so they can spend more time with their families. The choice is yours.

#2 Earning Potential Is Up to You

This directly relates to the first item on our list. Successful real estate agents work hard. Top producers are tenacious, assertive and available. They understand the value of networking and use it to build their business and income.

#3 Love What You Do

Imagine waking up every day and looking forward to going to work. Ask agents why they do what they do, and they will tell you that it’s because they love working in real estate and making a difference in people’s lives. You can make a difference, too. Not only will you be helping others, but you will wake up every morning loving what you do!

#4 No Two Days Are the Same

As an agent, you’ll wear a lot of hats. You’ll act as an educator, financial adviser, counselor, life coach and concierge. A flexible personality is key to juggling the varied demands of the job.

#5 Train in a Short Period of Time

Instead of spending years in school and the tuition associated with it, you can invest a matter of weeks (or a few months depending on your availability) and about $1,000 to get the required education, exams and obtain an Illinois real estate license. If you do need financial assistance, some schools offer easy financing.

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Real Estate Institute has been a top real estate education provider in Illinois for over 20 years. Our students have consistently outperformed other state exam candidates. A reputation for highly rated instructors and superior customer service explains why we have over 150,000 alumni nationwide.

LOAN ORIGINATORS: IDFPR RESCINDS PROPOSED EDUCATION RULE, ADOPTS UST

Breaking_NewsIn a surprise move, the IDFPR Division of Banking has rescinded the Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) education rule it proposed in late April, which called for an additional three hours of Illinois-specific pre- license education and an additional three hours of Illinois-specific continuing education annually. The Division of Banking also confirmed plans to move ahead with adopting the Uniform State Test (UST) for loan originator license applicants in Illinois, effective June 1, 2016. For those unfamiliar, the UST covers general state-level regulatory information applicable in most states and is included as a part of the National Component of the SAFE exam that all potential licensees must pass.

Illinois State Test Component Removed Effective 6/1/2016

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

  • If you are currently licensed as a mortgage loan originator in Illinois, this has no impact on you. You may continue to originate as you have been doing.
  • If you are not yet licensed in Illinois but have already passed BOTH the National Component AND the Illinois State components of the SAFE exam, your Illinois license application will not be affected by this change. Whether or not you have actually filed the application, you do not have any additional requirements and may apply for licensure at any time if you have not already done so.
  • If you are not yet licensed in Illinois AND you have passed the National exam with UST (meaning you enrolled for and passed the National SAFE exam AFTER April 1, 2013), you will be able to apply for an Illinois MLO license on or after 6/1/2016 (do not apply before this date). This situation also applies to anyone who enrolled in and passed the STAND-ALONE UST, which was available in 2013 and early 2014.
  • If you are not yet licensed in Illinois AND you have not passed the Illinois exam AND you enrolled for and passed the National SAFE exam WITHOUT UST (you enrolled for the National exam BEFORE April 1, 2013), you have two options:

    Option 1: Enroll in the Illinois State Component exam BEFORE June 1st, 2016 and pass that exam on your first take OR;

    Option 2: Enroll for and pass the current version of the National exam with UST. Yes, this will require you to re-take the full national component, as there is no longer a stand-alone UST option.

If you have any questions about which exam(s) you have taken and passed, you can find that information by logging into the NMLS (on the State side), clicking the “COMPOSITE VIEW” tab at the top right, then clicking “View Individual” at the top center and finally clicking “Testing Information” on the left navigation bar. You can also contact the NMLS Call Center at 855-665-7123 with questions about your status.

Refer to the IDFPR press release announcing this change.


Real Estate Institute has helped thousands of LOs pass the SAFE exams with Prep-to-Pass. Our recently updated test prep program includes the most recent NMLS content outline revisions. Try sample practice tests for free at our website.

Is the CFPB Finally Listening on TRID?

TRID maze
According to the folks over at National Mortgage Professional Magazine, the CFPB has quietly begun drafting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. For those unfamiliar with the process, this is the first step in issuing a new or revised administrative rule, and typically opens the door for public comments on the topic at hand before the rule is actually drafted/released.

In this case, the topic at hand is the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule – or TRID – which totally revamped the mortgage disclosure process beginning in October of 2015. Since the new rules took effect, lenders have been struggling to comply with what they believe the CFPB wants, which in some areas is still unclear as the CFPB has not issued formal written guidance on many topics.

While there are positives that have come out of TRID – namely the effectiveness of the simplified Loan Estimate form that replaced the GFE for most transactions – there also have been many speedbumps. For example, many technology providers lagged behind in releasing updates to origination, document preparation and other software, which led to lenders issuing non-compliant Loan Estimates and Closing Disclosures. In fact, recently Moody’s estimated that up to 90% of loans originated in the first few months of the rule’s effective date contained at least one TRID-related defect.

A large mortgage lender – W.J. Bradley – closed its doors in March after being unable to sell a large number of loans with TRID compliance issues. This event, along with consistent industry prodding for help in understanding CFPB expectations through formal written guidance may have led to Director Cordray’s decision to revisit the rules.

While the NMP article indicates a “possible TRID rewrite,” I wouldn’t expect a massive overhaul of the key components that we’re becoming accustomed to in the origination community – namely the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure. Instead, what I believe is likely to happen is a clarifying tweak to some of the more confusing areas of the regulation, such as the sections dealing with construction and other non-traditional lending products, and (fingers crossed) significantly more written industry guidance to help us understand what we need to do to comply with CFPB expectations. If this is the case, that should make the secondary market (especially in the nonconforming space) much more comfortable in purchasing loans, which should result in an easing of credit availability and – one would hope – a reduction in loan turn-times which skyrocketed industrywide after October 1, 2015. It also may lead to a long-term reduction in compliance costs, which would make many small and midsized players in our industry very, very happy.

More on this as it develops. Until then, happy originating!

Peter

Broker Late Renewals: Your Questions Answered

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The deadline for Illinois Real Estate Brokers to renew their licenses on time is only days away, on April 30. Although the vast majority of licensees will renew on-time, many will not. So what happens if you miss the deadline?

There are a few things to think about, including license renewal fees, required education and other compliance considerations.

State License Renewal Fees:

Licensees who miss the renewal deadline will have to pay a $50 late-renewal fee to IDFPR (in addition to the standard $150 renewal fee). Although you might expect the late fee to escalate over time, it does not. The same fee will be due as long as you complete the renewal anytime during the next license renewal period.  However, you only have 30 days to renew online with a credit card payment.  After that, you will be required to print and mail the renewal form with a check or money order.

If you remain in a non-renewed status beyond a full renewal period, you will be responsible for paying any additional missed renewal fees if/when you eventually renew your license. In other words, the IDFPR will require you to “catch up” on all missed fees from the period of time when your license was in a non-renewed status.

This graphic illustrates how the fees escalate over time:

Broker Late Renewal Fee Chart v2

Continuing Education or Post-License Education:

Brokers who renew on time must complete either 12 credit hours of CE or 30 hours of post-license education before renewing their license. (If you’re not sure which one you need, read our prior article.)  The education requirements remain the same for those who complete a late renewal. So, if you miss the renewal and plan to renew sometime in May, be sure to complete your education requirement before applying for your new license. Failure to do so will result in additional fines/penalties.  

Assuming that you complete your education requirement in May 2016 and then apply for your (late) license renewal, take note that the education you completed is retroactively applied to the prior renewal period and may not also be applied to your next license renewal (due by April 30, 2018.)

Individuals who wait more than two years to renew will fall into the “reinstatement” category. At that point, you may be subject to different and/or additional education requirements, as mandated by the IDFPR.

Compliance Considerations:

Late license renewal is no big deal if you are not currently engaged in business that requires you to hold a real estate license. If you just cringed, here’s what you should know:

  • If your license expires and you have active transactions, you may not continue to participate in those transactions. Acting without a license can result in a fine of up to $25,000!  You should immediately notify your sponsoring broker that your license has expired, so that they may take appropriate steps to address the situation.
  • If you are also a REALTOR®, the change in your license status(es) will likely impact your membership(s), including access to the MLS. Contact your local REALTOR® association for more details.

After the April 30 deadline, finding the right education program can be tricky. Real Estate Institute will continue offering our popular 12-hour core/elective CE program and the 30-hour Broker post-license education program that’s required for new licensees.

Call 800-995-1700 if you have any questions about the education required for late renewal.

Quickest Route for Brokers to Beat the April 30th Deadline


Quickest_Route-road-with-motion-cloudsIt’s the second half of April. For Real Estate Brokers in the state of Illinois who have yet to renew their licenses, it can cause panic. But, it doesn’t have to. Follow the two-step process below for a quick and easy way to maintain your license.

Step 1 – Complete Your Education.
Brokers in Illinois are required to completed education before renewing their license. The type of education is dependent upon what date your license was issued. Find out the original issue date of your license by clicking here.

  • Brokers whose licenses were issued before 2/1/14 require 12 hours of core and elective continuing education. While classes are permitted, self-study, is the fastest option. Both class and self-study options require a proctored exam. Real Estate Institute offers convenient continuing education options.
  • Brokers whose licenses were issued between 2/1/14 – 1/31/16 require post-license education. Half of this 30 credit-hour requirement must include live instruction, such as a class or webinar. With limited time remaining, many Brokers choose webinars, which offer more flexible attendance options – review your post-license education options.
  • Brokers whose licenses were issued after 1/31/16 won’t have to renew until 2018, so no education is required at this time. These Brokers should complete their post-license education requirement by 4/30/18.

Step 2 – Renew Your License.
Most Brokers know that they must pay the renewal fee to the IDFPR, but are unsure of the exact process. Read the following for specific details about the renewal process.

  • After completing your required education, you may renew the license. A sponsor and a fee of $150 are also required to renew.
  • The IDFPR strongly encourages Brokers to renew online. You may have received a P.I.N. via e-mail from the IDFPR. However, it’s not needed to renew. The license number, plus one of the following is needed to renew: the social security number, date of birth or P.I.N. A paper-based renewal form is also available with this information.
  • Begin the renewal process by clicking here.

Real Estate Institute has been a leader in real estate education for over 20 years. Our team of experts is standing by to answer your questions about your requirements, our courses and the renewal process. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-995-1700.

Here Come the Changes! Fannie Mae Sets Release Weekend for Desktop Underwriter™ 10.0

Here Come the Changes! Fannie to release DU 10.0

Well, we finally know a *LITTLE* more about Fannie’s plan to release the brand-spanking-new version of Desktop Underwriter™ (DU™).

If you took Real Estate Institute’s live Mortgage continuing education class last year, you heard me talk about Fannie’s plans to revamp and update their underwriting engine to take into account “new and improved” (*your mileage may vary) credit report data that the mortgage industry has not previously utilized. The data to which I’m referring is called trended credit data, and it incorporates much more information about consumers than most of you have ever seen before.

Right now, our mortgage credit reports are basically “snapshot” reports – that is, they show the consumer’s payment history, current balance, credit limit, dates opened, etc. That data is updated typically once per month from each reporting account, and what we know about our customer is what is reported on that day from that creditor. Thus, if Joey Bagadonutz is someone who pays off his credit cards in full each month, but his outstanding balance on the day the account reports to the bureaus is $3,500, we see that balance as $3,500 with no indicator of how long it has been that high. Now, imagine that the limit on Joey’s account is $4,000. Our current underwriting algorithms see him as a SIGNIFICANT CREDIT RISK because of his credit utilization. Not good for Joey.

With trended data, not only will we be able to view the outstanding balance and limit, we’ll be able to see how much Joey has paid on his accounts each month for the past two years! For a guy like Joey who pays his account in full, this is fantastic; we’ll be able to really dig into his excellent credit history beyond today’s “well, he’s never been late.” Thus, Joey gets a better risk evaluation, which leads to a better rate, which leads to happy Joey, pink unicorns, rainbows and Santa Claus! Can’t get any better than this, right?

Well, if you’re Joey, yes.

However, if you’re someone who carries a balance each month, not so much. Let’s say you’re working with Bubba Buysalot on a purchase of a new home. Bubba is a guy who has 6 open credit cards, is under 50% utilization on all of them, and has never missed a payment. In today’s credit world, our algorithms see him as a TOP-TIER RISK LEVEL because of his utilization and payment history. Good for Bubba. Now, with the new trended data, we dig deeper and see that Bubba has made just the minimum payment on all six accounts and his balance over time has been increasing. Now, Bubba is no longer a top-tier borrower. He gets a worse risk evaluation (due to the fact that those who make minimum payments default on debt at a rate 3 to 5 times higher), which leads to a higher rate or a declined loan, which leads to sad Bubba, rain clouds, bee stings and Lucy pulling away the football when he tries to kick it.

You can see both sides of this coin, right? Deeper information and improved risk assessment is good for creditors, Fannie Mae and MBS investors, but it’s not good for every applicant.

OK. So WHEN is this new version of DU coming out? Good question. According to Fannie’s preview document released at the end of January, we can expect the rollout to occur on the weekend of June 25, 2016. We also can expect a series of training webinars and informational communications in the months leading up to the roll-out date. As of right now, all we really know is that this new release will evaluate trended credit data, as well as simplify the process for applicants with multiple financed properties. We’ll learn a lot more when Fannie issues the release notes sometime later this month. It will be interesting to see if they also incorporate some of the other changes they’ve been working on, such as creating a way for DU to evaluate borrowers with non-traditional credit histories, or if those will be relegated to a future release.

Now that you have this knowledge, it’s time to get out there and start educating your prospective borrowers about it, especially those who are sitting on the fence about purchasing a home. While you’re at it, start informing your referral sources, too! I’m sure there are gaggles of real estate agents and financial planners out there who’d like to know about these changes well in advance.

More to come when the Release Notes are, well, released. Until then…

Happy Originating!

Peter



Real Estate Institute is an NMLS-Approved Course Provider, #1400102. Each year, thousands across the country choose Real Estate Institute for its mortgage pre-license, SAFE test prep and continuing education programs. If you have questions about your education requirements, our compliance experts are available at 800-995-1700 from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Central Time), Monday through Friday.

Top 6 Things Real Estate Brokers Get Wrong About License Renewal

There’s no doubt that it’s tough to keep up with all of the ins and outs of renewing an Illinois Broker license. But the renewal deadline is approaching, so it’s time to get your facts straight.

Here’s a short list of common myths about license renewal.

Myth #1: Broker post-license education is a type of continuing education.

It’s no wonder Brokers are confused. Many education providers incorrectly refer to post-license education as a continuing education program. Post-license education is actually a follow-up to your pre-license training, and it takes the place of continuing education for newly licensed Brokers. You must complete this one-time requirement by April 30, 2016 if you became licensed between February 1, 2014 and January 31, 2016.

In case you are thinking about waiting until the last minute to complete your post-license education, think again. Post-license is a two-part program that includes some interactive sessions, so it is strongly recommended that you start your required education NOW.

Post-license education must be provided by a pre-license school that is approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Schools that have only been approved as continuing education providers cannot offer this course. Importantly, post-license credit will not be accepted by the IDFPR as continuing education credit and vice versa.

Myth #2: You must complete an ethics course in order to renew your license.

The National Association of REALTORS® requires its members to complete ethics training every four years. REALTORS® must complete this requirement by 2016. However, you do not need to complete an ethics course in order to renew your Illinois Broker license. Illinois requires brokers to complete 12 credit hours of core and elective continuing education. Required topics for core courses can be found here. (For your convenience, Real Estate Institute includes a 3-credit-hour ethics course in our popular 12-credit-hour CE package.)

Myth #3: Out-of-state licensees have different license renewal requirements.

If you live out of state and want to renew your Illinois Broker license, you must complete the same requirements as a Broker who lives and works in Illinois. Brokers licensed prior to February 1, 2014 must complete the 12-credit-hour continuing education requirement. Brokers licensed on or after February 1, 2014 must complete a 30-credit-hour post-license education program. Brokers must also submit the renewal application and fee to the IDFPR by April 30, 2016.

Myth #4: Attorneys are exempt from all Broker renewal requirements.

Active Illinois attorneys are exempt from the continuing education requirements, but they must submit the renewal application and fee to the IDFPR by April 30, 2016.

Myth #5: Getting an Illinois Broker license through reciprocity provides an education exemption during the first license renewal.

Brokers who acquired their Illinois Broker licenses through a reciprocal state agreement (and did not complete Illinois real estate pre-license education) aren’t off the hook. These licensees in their first renewal have the same requirement as Brokers who completed their pre-license education in Illinois. They must complete 30-credit-hours of post-license education before the April 30, 2016 renewal deadline.

Myth #6: Brokers don’t need to worry about renewing their license until they receive a postcard from the IDFPR.

In previous renewal years, the alarm bell sounded when you received the IDFPR’s renewal reminder postcard with your PIN number. You knew it was time to complete the education requirements (if you hadn’t already) and submit the renewal application and payment. With the IDFPR’s recent decision to only send email renewal notifications and discontinue mailing license renewal notifications, there’s a good chance that there will be a late rush of required education completions and renewal applications being submitted to the state. To avoid late fees, don’t let this happen to you. If you aren’t sure whether you have a current email address on file with the state, you can easily update/add it here.


Real Estate Institute is approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Pre-License Provider #510.000158 and Continuing Education Provider #562.000161. Each year, thousands of licensees choose Real Estate Institute for its flexible continuing education and post-licensing education programs. If you have questions about your education requirements, our compliance experts are available at 800-995-1700 from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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What You Need to Know About Illinois Broker License Renewal In 2016

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The state’s budget woes will soon be felt by Illinois real estate licensees. Last week, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) advised that it will not mail license renewal notifications. This means that there will be no reminder postcard sent in early February before brokers’ deadline. Many brokers don’t give much thought to the license renewal or the education that must be completed until they receive this reminder. This could cause a late rush of continuing education completions and renewal applications being submitted to the state.

The good news is that the IDFPR will begin sending renewal reminders via e-mail. The bad news is that the IDFPR has never required real estate licensees to provide their e-mail addresses, so the department’s database is incomplete. This is a perfect time for you to update your contact information with the state. To easily update or add your e-mail address, click here.

The IDFPR will start accepting Broker license renewal applications in just a few weeks. It’s important that you follow these instructions for a timely renewal.

Step 1 – Complete Continuing Education or Post-License

Illinois real estate Brokers need 12 hours of core/elective continuing education (CE) every renewal period, EXCEPT Brokers who are in their first renewal period. Brokers in their first renewal period are required to complete a 30-hour Broker Post-License course. The current Broker renewal period began May 1, 2014 and ends April 30, 2016. If you complete CE or Post-License education with Real Estate Institute, our school reports your course completion directly to the IDFPR.

Step 2 – Submit Your New License Application

After you have completed your CE or Post-License requirement, you must renew your license with the IDFPR. There are two ways to renew your license:

  • Apply Online – The IDFPR permits online license renewal applications to be submitted up to 90 days before the license expires. This option allows you to complete the entire renewal application and pay online. Click here to apply online.
  • Mail Your Application – The IDFPR typically mails licensees a copy of the renewal application 60 days before the license expires. However, with the budget cuts, it’s likely that this mailing will be discontinued too. The application can be completed online, printed and mailed with payment. If you use the paper application, we strongly recommend that you send it to the IDFPR via USPS Certified Mail so that you receive confirmation of delivery to the IDFPR. Delivery confirmation will be critical in the event of a delay in license renewal. It will likely take the IDFPR several weeks to process your application.


If you have questions about your education requirements for renewal, please call Real Estate Institute at 800-995-1700 to speak to one of our compliance experts. More information can also be found at InstituteOnline.com/NextSteps.