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!

__________________________________________________________________________________

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

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.

_________________________________________________________________

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.

How to Start a Real Estate Career in the New Year

real-estate-agent-SOLD_signHave you been thinking about making changes to your life in 2016? Considering a new career?

You’ve surely seen the headlines about the real estate market gaining momentum. Now is the perfect time to start a career in real estate. The Illinois education requirement to become licensed as a broker includes successfully completing 90 credit hours of real estate pre-license education. This may seem like a lot, but there are ways to get it done quickly and be fully prepared to pass the state licensing exam.

Here are two recommended course options that will satisfy the Illinois broker pre-license education requirement. You need to decide which one works best for your schedule and learning style.

Flex Path

You can learn on a flexible schedule, with support tailored to your individual needs. This convenient program combines self-study with instructor assistance plus interactive classes or live-broadcast webinars. It is ideal for individuals who prefer to work at their own pace and choose their own schedule and learning environment. You can start immediately with this popular program. You’ll work through a series of lesson assignments, call for help as needed and take advantage of additional perks, including over 650 practice questions. Most candidates (who are busy with work or family responsibilities) complete Flex Path in about six weeks.

Fast-Track Classes

You will complete the entire course in under three weeks with this accelerated program. Classes are offered in Chicago’s Northwest and South suburbs. You will attend all-day classes in a highly motivating and engaging environment. Classes are led by experienced, professional instructors. Fast-Track is ideal for individuals who learn best in an interactive, structured classroom environment and can dedicate their full schedule to this program. You will learn the ins-and-outs of the real estate broker profession, with a focus on what you need to know to pass the Illinois state exam.

Invest in Your Future

By starting your broker pre-license education now, you can get licensed and start working for a real estate company just in time for the busy buying and selling season.


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.

Should Real Estate Agents Be Worried About Processing Delays at the IDFPR?

Changing Sponsoring Brokers – A Quick Summary
Illinois real estate licensees typically only submit forms to the IDFPR’s Division of Real Estate only once every two years, when it’s time to renew their licenses.  (For Brokers, that time is approaching once again.)  However, you also rely on the IDFPR to process an application if you become sponsored by a new Managing Broker sometime during your license renewal period.

The process to change sponsors is pretty straightforward, as summarized here:

  1. Notify your current sponsor that you no longer wish to be sponsored.  The current sponsor will terminate your license by signing the back of it before returning it to you. (Your license should have been on display at your office location. Your pocket card is not your license.)
  2. Complete the IDFPR’s 45-Day Permit Sponsor Card form.  Provide the form to your new sponsoring broker, so that he or she may complete the bottom section of the form.
  3. Make two copies – one for you and one for your new sponsoring broker.
  4. Within 24 hours, mail the original form, your old (terminated) license and the required $25 processing fee to the IDFPR.

Your copy of the form will serve as a 45-day permit while you’re waiting for the IDFPR to process the form and mail your new license.

Does it Really Take Less Than 45 Days?
Until recently, the Division of Real Estate had been processing license applications and other forms rather promptly.  This was no small feat, since just a few employees at the division process more than 15,000 termination and sponsor change requests every year!

Unfortunately, reductions in staff have led to delays in processing documents like these.  In fact, some applications are taking more than 45 days to process.  

So, What Happens When Your Permit Expires?
Most notably, you would not be able to provide a copy of your license to customers or your sponsoring broker.  Of course, this is just a temporary problem and no fault of your own.

Recently, the division advised that it is doing its best to manage the situation and understands that such a delay would impact licensees.  To mitigate the issue, the division indicated that it will allow these licensees to complete and submit a duplicate 45-Day Permit Sponsor Card – without the $25 payment.  You may reference a copy of this document as needed.  Meanwhile, the division will be working to clear out the backlog and issue your new license as quickly as practicable.

A Word To the Wise…
As you might imagine, the Division’s staff will be under much more pressure we proceed into the upcoming Broker’s license renewal season.  Brokers should look to complete their continuing education requirement early and apply for their new license as soon as permitted (early next year.)  That way, you’ll be out in front of the line!

Identifying Value in a Negotiation

Good NegotiatiorAll negotiations involve multiple “value” elements. The key to success is to first identify the value elements on each side and then “trade” value elements to reach agreement.

Easier said than done! Why? Because most negotiators don’t spend enough time identifying and truly understanding the value elements. The trading part is easy!

A home buyer and seller were negotiating and after lowering the price somewhat, the seller finally said, “I won’t go any lower.” The buyer asked his agent to find out why the seller wouldn’t go any lower. After several conversations with the listing agent, the reason was uncovered. The seller wouldn’t go any lower because he wanted “bragging rights” for his neighborhood – meaning he wanted to be able to say he had sold at the highest price to date in his neighborhood!

This “value” element was very important to the seller. In a negotiation, you can trade or exchange items of equal value. Understanding how valuable something is becomes a key objective of the skilled negotiator so that equal value can be obtained in the exchange. If the seller truly values his bragging rights (while still being realistic about the true value of the property), then the buyer should ask for something of “equal” value from the seller. For example “My buyer will pay your seller’s price if your seller agrees to a 15-day close.”

You have probably heard that the best time to buy a car is at the end of the month. This is usually because the car salesperson and/or dealer is trying to reach a goal or quota that carries some type of bonus from the manufacturer. Car dealers may even “lose” money on an individual sale because the bonus will more than cover the loss. So if your purchase happens to be key to achieving the bonus, you can negotiate really good terms for yourself!

So how can you identify the other side’s value elements in a negotiation? Try these 3 approaches:

  1. Ask! But first, tell them in general what is important to your side.
    Role modeling the behavior you want from the other side increases the odds that you will get the same behavior in return. As a buyer’s agent you might say to the listing agent, “From my buyer’s perspective, price, closing costs support, and personal property (refrigerator, washer, and dryer) are very important in this deal. What is most important to your seller?” If the listing agent shares something like, “Well, for my seller, price, closing date, and your buyer’s qualifications are key”, then you have a dialogue started where you can continue to exchange information and ask questions to determine the key elements of value.
  2. What if the other side won’t give you any information?
    Suppose the listing agent simply says, “Just submit your offer and we’ll respond based on that.” Then you might try the “self-interest” approach. The buyer’s agent could say something like, “My buyer would like to submit the very best offer to your seller. The more specific you can be about what is really important to your seller, the better the chances of my buyer meeting your seller’s needs.” In essence, you are trying to educate the other side about why it is in their self-interest to share important information – it increases the odds of getting what you want.
  3. “Either/Or” Approach.
    If the other side still won’t open up, try asking simple “either/or” questions to get an indication of what is important. “Would your seller prefer a quicker or longer closing date?” “Would your seller prefer a clean offer or would they entertain an offer with closing cost support for the buyer?” “Would your seller prefer to pay the buyer to do any necessary repairs or does your seller want to handle the repairs on their own?” By narrowing the choices you give the other side, you can focus in on the true value elements.

Sharing your value elements and understanding the other side’s value elements helps establish the basis for a win-win outcome.

Learn more about negotiation skills at Real Estate Institute.


This article was  originally published in an August, 15, 2014 blog post by Real Estate Negotiation Institute.

Real Estate Agents Need to Know … To Tell or Not to Tell?

Real Estate Agents Have a Duty to Disclose

Illinois real estate agents and Realtors® live in an age of disclosure. They are governed by laws that require them to disclose, disclose, disclose.
That seems easy enough, right?

Well, not always…

For example, did Bob the Broker do the right thing in the following scenario?

  • Bob the Broker had a vacancy in an apartment building that he owns with his sister. Bob’s sister is not licensed. Bob and his sister signed a one-year lease with a tenant. Bob did not disclose his status as a real estate licensee to the tenant.

Many real estate agents would do the same as Bob the Broker – not feel the need to disclose their status as a real estate licensee in a personal transaction involving a rental property. There seems to be a lot of confusion on when to disclose your status as a licensee.

What does Illinois law say about disclosure of real estate license status?

  • The Real Estate License Act states, “Each licensee shall disclose, in writing, his or her status as a licensee to all parties in a transaction when the licensee is selling, leasing, or purchasing any interest, direct or indirect, in the real estate that is the subject of the transaction.”

How does Illinois law apply to our hypothetical scenario?

  • Even though his sister is not licensed, Bob the Broker is in violation of the law for failing to disclose his status as a licensee.

What, if anything, could have been done to prevent the problem?

  • Bob the Broker could have disclosed his status as a licensee in writing to the tenant.

Unfortunately, many licensees learn the law the hard way by getting reprimanded by state regulators.

Real estate agents and Realtors® are faced with dilemmas on a daily basis. It’s critical that they understand the possible pitfalls. The state-required real estate post-licensing course is one way for new broker licensees to review real-world scenarios.

Learn more about post-license education at Real Estate Institute, where the goals are to help you become better prepared to handle these challenges, avoid disciplinary actions taken against you, and succeed in your real estate career.

Which Real Estate License Type Is Right For You?

Questions With a career in real estate, many opportunities lie ahead that may not be readily available in more traditional career paths. Many people enjoy the schedule flexibility and income potential that working in real estate affords.

In Illinois, there are three real estate license types to choose from. The residential leasing agent license is considered an “entry level” license. The broker license is the most common license type in Illinois and allows you to do much more than a residential leasing agent. The managing broker license allows you to do everything a residential leasing agent and a broker do, but you have the ability to be your own boss and manage others if you choose. Depending on whether you’ll be working for a real estate brokerage, a property management company or ultimately hope to start your own business, you’ll need to consider which path you take. 

 

Comparing real estate license types

This comparison table will help you determine which license type is right for your career.

Characteristics of Illinois Real Estate Licenses

Residential Leasing Agent Broker Managing Broker
Allowed to sell all property types X X
Allowed to lease residential property X X X
Allowed to lease commercial property X X
Allowed to exchange all property types X X
Must be supervised by a managing broker X X
Held a sales or broker license for 2 of the prior 3 years X
Allowed to work under their own supervision  X
Allowed to supervise other licensees X
Can manage a sales or management office X
Required state examination Multiple-choice  Multiple-choice  Multiple-choice

plus simulation

LEARN MORE LEARN MORE LEARN MORE

 

For information about real estate licensing, visit the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation’s Real Estate Division

Real Estate Institute’s frequently asked questions have more detailed information about each license type.

Success Passing Illinois Real Estate Exam

Top 3 Things You Need to Know to Pass the Illinois Real Estate Broker Exam

Success Passing Illinois Real Estate ExamAre you planning to become a real estate Broker in Illinois? If so, follow this advice to improve your chances of success on the state licensing exam.

  1. Do Not Procrastinate: Take the State Exam As Soon As Possible
    As soon as you pass the Illinois Broker pre-licensing course, you will earn a 90-hour transcript that will qualify you to take the state exam with Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. (AMP). Earning a transcript means that you have successfully completed the course, passed the final course exams and are now ready to take the next step.

    The next step is to take the state exam while the information is still fresh in your mind.  Schedule the state exam as soon as possible and no later than two weeks after earning your transcript. Refer to the AMP Candidate Handbook for detailed information about the exam.

    For most students, procrastinating will hinder their ability to pass the state exam. The sooner you get there, the more likely you will be able to successfully pass. If more than three months have passed and you were unable to take the state exam, you may benefit from a refresher course.

  2. Stay In the Zone – Stay On Track
    From the time that you earn the transcript, to the time that you take the state exam, allow NO DISTRACTIONS. Try to avoid any activity that will take you away from staying in the zone. For example, avoid scheduling vacations during this time.

    Stay focused by continuing to study. Review some of your weakest testing areas by rereading those chapters, retaking the practice quizzes and making sure that you understand the key terms.

  3.  Be Confident
    Being confident is easier said than done, especially when test stress gets in the way. For many, taking an exam is a very stressful experience. You made it through one hurdle by passing the 90-hour pre-license final exams but it’s still not over – The “big one” is next!

    If test stress begins to multiply and interfere with your positive mind set and ability to pass the state exam, consider enrolling in our test prep course.  This course will add a dose of confidence by teaching you additional test-taking skills and strategies to pass the state exam.

For more information about Illinois real estate licensing or licensure requirements, visit www.idfpr.com or www.InstituteOnline.com/RElicensing

3 Steps to Start an Illinois Real Estate Broker Career in the New Year

Successful Illinois Real Estate Brokers

If you’ve already forgotten about your resolutions, Real Estate Institute can help you get back on track. January is a great time to get organized and set your goals for 2015. If one of your goals is to start a career in real estate, now is a perfect time. By starting now, you can get licensed and start working for a real estate company just in time for the prime buying and selling season.


Illinois requirements to become licensed

In order to become a broker in Illinois, you must meet certain requirements. State requirements for licensing are:

Once you’ve met those criteria, you are ready to get started!

3 simple steps to becoming a licensed real estate broker in Illinois

  1. Complete a state-approved broker pre-license program.
  2. Pass the Illinois state exam.
  3. Become sponsored by a real estate company.

If you meet all the licensing criteria and complete the three simple steps, you can make 2015 your year for taking charge of your career and earning potential.

For more information about Illinois real estate licensing, visit the IDFPR website.

5 Broker License Renewal Myths

Success + Failure SignMyth #1: Broker post-license education is a type of continuing education.
Many education providers are calling post-license education a CE option. This is not the case. 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. It is a one-time requirement. Post-license education must be provided by an IDFPR-approved pre-license provider. Education providers that are only 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: If you transitioned from the Salesperson to Broker license, this is your first renewal.
If you transitioned your license, this is not your first renewal. You must complete 12 credit hours of continuing education (not 30 hours of post-license education) by April 30, 2014.

Myth #3: Ethics is required by the state for renewal.
The state does not have an ethics requirement. The IDFPR does require 12 credit hours of core and elective education. Specific provisions for core courses can be found here. Some real estate boards require ethics, but this is not needed for your license renewal. (Real Estate Institute includes an ethics elective in its 12-hour CE package.)

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, 2014.

Myth #5: Out-of-state licensees have different license renewal requirements.
If you live out of state and hold an Illinois Broker license, you must complete the same requirements as a Broker who lives and works in Illinois. Brokers licensed prior to February 1, 2012 must complete the 12-credit-hour continuing education requirement. Brokers licensed on or after February 1, 2012 must complete 30-hour post-license education. Brokers must also submit the renewal application and fee to the IDFPR by April 30, 2014.


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-license education programs. If you have questions about your education requirements, our compliance experts are available at 800-995-1700 from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.