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Elevate Your Real Estate Career: Become an Accredited Buyer’s Representative

Are you passionate about real estate and helping clients find their dream homes? If so, becoming an Accredited Buyer’s Representative might be the perfect next step in your career, giving you the edge you need to stand out.

About the Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation

To clarify, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative is a real estate professional who has completed specialized training in representing buyers in real estate transactions. This designation is awarded by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to agents who have demonstrated excellence in buyer representation.

Let’s review more about the benefits of becoming an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, what you’ll learn and how it can help you better serve your clients.

The benefits of being an Accredited Buyer’s Representative

First and foremost, becoming an Accredited Buyer’s Representative demonstrates your dedication and commitment to serving today’s homebuyers. Backed with specialized knowledge, you will gain valuable insight into working with buyers. Topics covered in the course include understanding homebuyers’ needs and preferences and guiding them through the entire home-buying process.

Next, having this special designation adds credibility to your name. Clients will feel more confident entrusting you with their home-buying journey knowing that you have undergone rigorous training and education.

Another benefit of becoming an Accredited Buyer’s Representative is continuous learning through professional development. Realtors can access exclusive resources, networking opportunities and ongoing training.

Finally, having the Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation gives you a competitive edge. Clients are more likely to choose an agent with specialized training in buyer representation, leading to increased business opportunities and referrals.

What you’ll learn

During the two-day course, and the following elective course, participants will learn how to create a buyer representation agreement, conduct a successful buyer consultation and more. Upon completion of the course, Realtors will have a thorough understanding of each step in the home-buying process.

The material covered includes the search-showing-selection process, making an offer, negotiations, appraisals and closing on the property. What’s more, learn how to promote yourself in the competitive buyer’s market and grow your business with the designee member benefits!

Summary

Are you ready to take the next step? Register for a free live virtual instructor-led course for classes offered from June through December. Continue reading our blogs for more industry news and current real estate topics.

A Walk Through the Home Buying Process

Are you thinking about purchasing your first home? Or has it been a while since you’ve last sold or bought a home? Regardless of the answer, let’s take a walk through the home buying process to refresh your memory and remind you how to prepare for it.

Understand your finances.

In other words, check your financial health. Review your credit score, look at your expenses versus your income and calculate how much you can afford.

Create a budget.

When it comes to budgeting, remember to calculate the one-time and recurring costs. These include the down payment, closing costs, move-in expenses and property taxes, for example. Typically, a 20% down payment is the norm.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Before you start looking at homes, it’s important to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will give you a better understanding of how much you can afford to spend on a home and will show sellers that you are a serious buyer.

To get pre-approved, you’ll need to provide your financial information to a lender, who will then determine how much they are willing to lend you.

Find a Realtor.

A Realtor will be your guide through the home buying process, helping you find homes that meet your criteria, negotiating offers and navigating the closing process. Look for an agent who is experienced in the local market and has a track record of successful transactions.

Start house hunting.

Once you have your pre-approval and a Realtor, it’s time to start looking at homes. Make a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves. Be open to exploring different neighborhoods and property types. Attend open houses, schedule private showings and don’t hesitate to ask your Realtor for their expert opinion.

Make an offer.

When you find a home that checks all the boxes, it’s time to make an offer. Your Realtor will help you draft a competitive offer that takes into account the current market conditions and the seller’s motivations.

Schedule a home inspection and appraisal.

As we continue our walk through the home buying process, it’s important to remember this critical step. A home inspection helps determine if the property has any structural, mechanical or other potential issues.

Depending on the report, potential buyers can request specific repairs from the seller or back out of the deal.

Prepare for the closing.

It’s official! As you get closer to closing day, your Realtor will help you become familiar with the standard closing documents beforehand. On or near closing day, plan on doing the final walk-through with your Realtor to ensure that everything’s as agreed upon.

Summary

With a walk through the home buying process fresh on your mind, do you have more questions for an experienced Realtor? Connect with your next local Realtor to have your questions answered and start your search for a home in Lee County. Keep reading our blogs for more real estate news and guidance.

6 Tips for Offline Lead Generation in Real Estate

Whether you are a new real estate professional or an established community expert, it’s always a good idea to set yourself apart from the crowd. These six tips for offline lead generation in real estate will help you do just that while bringing you a steady stream of potential clients.

Build community relationships.

For starters, building strong community relationships is key to success. Position yourself as a trusted local real estate expert by hosting informative workshops. Cover a variety of topics, from how to buy a home to selling dos and don’ts to reviewing the different types of mortgages available, for example.

You can also shake things up by hosting a fun local event. Work with a local nonprofit, for instance, to demonstrate your commitment to the community by giving back.

Stand out with eye-popping signage.

Think memorable. Craft a lively slogan. Pair it with professional photography and a call to action. This formula adds up to eye-catching signage that you can display in high-traffic areas, in local businesses and at your listings. Generate leads by leaving a good impression on potential home buyers and sellers through visual cues.

Let snail mail work for you.

Next on our list of tips for offline lead generation in real estate is trust in the tried and true with good old-fashioned mail. Let the postal service deliver your message to your target audience with a well-designed mailer. Stand out in the digital age by sending something a potential client can hold, read, save and refer to later!

Collaborate with other industry experts.

Team up with like-minded business partners to develop marketing initiatives together. Work with local contractors, landscaping professionals, interior design firms, home inspectors and other local industry experts.

Not only will this broaden your reach and strengthen your network, but it will also create a lasting impression.

Build a solid referral system.

In this case, we’re referring to building those long-lasting relationships with your past and present clients that lead to personal referrals. Referrals can come from family, friends, colleagues and others. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 36% of sellers who used a real estate agent found them through a referral, while 89% of buyers said they would recommend their agent to others and use them again.

Warm things up with cold calls.

Again, stand out from the crowd by making cold calls. Cold calling is direct and personal. Connect with serious prospects with a one-on-one conversation. Remember to start by building a rapport with open-ended questions, for example.

Summary

While these tips for offline lead generation in real estate are a good start, it will take a comprehensive approach to achieve lead generation in today’s market, combining online marketing and social media with your efforts too. Are you a new Realtor in Lee County? Connect with some of our experienced members for professional guidance. And keep reading our blogs for more industry trends and real estate tips.

6 Ways to Build Client Loyalty in Real Estate

Client relationships are an essential part of the real estate business. Are you looking for ways to build trust with your clients? Check out these six ways to build client loyalty in real estate.

Make your work stand out.

Clients must make the choice to work with you. What makes you stand out? From your quirky personality and excellent service to your reliability, responsiveness and ability to connect, all of this can help you catch the eye of potential clients and keep them. 

Organize client events.

Want to create loyal clients for life? Spend time with them. This can be done through client events such as seminars or special get-togethers.

Seminars provide valuable information and are a great way for REALTORS® to share their knowledge with clients. Plus, you can invite speakers for different topics and help your buyers and sellers with interior design, landscaping and more. Client events such as barbecues, lunches and more are also a great way to show appreciation and connect on a personal level.

Follow up with your clients.

Just as in life, you should nurture your client connections. Did you see their post about their new landscaping? Have they received attention for a good deed? Reach out and acknowledge it! Compliments go a long way.

Send thank you cards. 

Personal and heartfelt. Take time after closing to handwrite a thank you card to your clients, showing appreciation for choosing you. Be sure to congratulate them on their new home, and if you want to go the extra mile, you can even send a small gift, such as a gift card, to a local business, for example.

 Acknowledge important dates.

Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries—everyone likes to be remembered. Small gestures such as wishing someone a happy birthday, congratulating them on a closing anniversary or even a marriage anniversary are a great way to stay connected and build those loyal relationships.

Share your reliable contacts.

Another one of the best ways to build client loyalty in real estate is to share your reliable contacts. What do we mean by this? Well, when it comes to owning a home, it will need upkeep and, at some point, even repairs. Pass along a list of trusted contractors, repairmen, landscapers or designers.

Be sure to foster your connections with your contacts as well. As you refer them, they can also refer clients to you!

Summary

With these six ways to build client loyalty in real estate fresh in your mind, start implementing them today! We guarantee that your clients will appreciate it.

And for more real estate tips and industry news, continue reading our blogs.

5 Things for Home Buyers and Sellers to Consider in 2024

Does 2024 include a big move for you? From first-time buyers to seasoned investors, here’s a list of five things for home buyers and sellers to consider in 2024 to better prepare them for the real estate journey ahead.

Interest and mortgage rates.

It’s always a good idea for potential home buyers and sellers to keep an eye on interest and mortgage rates. Since October 2023, mortgage rates have begun to steadily decline from 8% to 7–6%. But rates will most likely remain volatile.

Experts suggest paying attention to the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decisions for a hint at where mortgage rates are going in 2024. 

The long-term value of owning a home. 

Homeownership is one of the most reliable and quickest ways to build wealth for a variety of reasons. First of all, it stabilizes a homeowner’s housing expenses with fixed monthly payments. Second of all, as you continue to pay off your mortgage loan, you build equity in the home.

Hence, you add value to your net worth.

Think about what you need versus what you would like. 

Whether you are a first-time home buyer or you’ve done it before, figuring out your needs versus what you want helps you narrow your search. And, from there, you can begin adding on those wants. 

Industry experts have predicted that a few of those key features for 2024 include sustainability, luxury amenities and seamless outdoor-indoor living spaces. 

Calculate your budget. 

Knowing your budget is not a new idea, but it remains one of the top things for home buyers and sellers to consider in 2024. In general, designating about 25% of your net income toward a mortgage payment is a good rule of thumb. 

It’s a good idea to work with your local Realtor or mortgage lender to help calculate your budget. 

Working with an experienced local Realtor. 

Finally, when it comes to things for home buyers and sellers to consider in 2024, working with a knowledgeable local expert is key. In terms of finding the right Realtor for you, talk to a few different Realtors. Ask them questions, read their reviews and ask about their rates and fees, for example.

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to finding a Realtor in Lee County, our member search offers a listing of Realtors, real estate offices, affiliates and more. 

Summary

A new year goes hand-in-hand with new possibilities and opportunities, and that includes investing in real estate. Become more familiar with our local market and the opportunities ahead by connecting with us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, where we share local statistics, insights and more. For more buying and selling tips, local news and trends, continue to read our blogs. 

4 Things to Do After Moving Into a New Home

With a new year comes new beginnings, which for many can include a new house. But don’t let the moving process stress you out—follow our guide for things to do after moving into a new home.

Clean and unpack.

It’s obvious that the first thing you should do when moving into a new home is unpack. But don’t skip the most important step, cleaning.

Before unpacking your boxes, be sure to wipe down all surfaces, making them free of dust and dirt. 

Setup and organize.

Now that everything is unpacked, it’s time to find its rightful place. Start by organizing your things by room and then placing them in logical places you won’t forget.

You will first want to tackle the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen since these are the rooms you will use immediately in your new home. Once your big items are in place, getting your closets, cabinets and drawers organized will be quicker and easier.

Childproof your home.

When mentioning things to do after moving into a new home, we must not forget childproofing your home if you’ve got little ones—or pet proofing. This can include covering electrical outlets, preventing slipping and securing cabinets.

In addition, you will want to keep your children and pets in mind when cleaning, since some cleaning methods are more kid- and pet-friendly.

Update your information.

One of the most important things to do when moving into a new home is updating all of your information. You will need to update your address where applicable as soon as you can.

You may even want to consider setting up mail forwarding to ensure you don’t miss any important mail. 

Summary

Now that you know all the things to do after moving into a new home, be sure to keep reading our blogs to learn more homeowner tips. Additionally, you can learn more about real estate news and information.

Exploring the MLS

Whether searching popular real estate websites like Zillow is a hobby or you’re truly searching for your next property, there is one local marketplace database that has all the current home listings in the area. But to gain access to it, you need a Realtor. Then exploring the MLS becomes a useful means to an end at your fingertips!

What is the MLS?

First of all, MLS stands for “multiple listing service.” To clarify, it is basically a network of local databases for designated areas across the U.S. In fact, there are more than 500 local MLS marketplace databases, serving as tools for real estate professionals to share area home listings with each other.

From there, licensed Realtors can begin exploring the MLS with their clients, narrowing down the available options based on information found in the database. An MLS listing is usually similar to other public real estate listings.

It typically includes the property’s price, address, square footage, type of property, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, utilities and other key details. The MLS listing also includes agent remarks about the property, along with photos of the interior and exterior of the property.

In addition, there is a section intended for other agents, brokers and Realtors only. Here is where they will find private information such as directions on how to get to the property, for instance.

More about the MLS

More than just a current database of listed homes in your area, the MLS ensures home buyers and sellers have access to the largest collection of available properties and genuine buyers through the active participation of Realtors.

It also promotes transparency and a competitive marketplace. According to Bright’s 2022 MLS Study, consumers benefit from the open marketplace made possible through the MLS. The study reported that homes on the MLS generally sell for about 15 percent more than those not in the database.

More specifically, non-MLS listings sold for an average of $349,773, while similar properties on MLS sold for an average of $395,244, which is a $45,471 difference!

Summary

To summarize, working with a licensed local Realtor pays off, from exploring the MLS to having a loyal advocate on your side throughout the complicated process of selling and buying a home. Are you ready to rev up your search for a home in East Alabama? Connect with one of our expert LCAR members to get started! For more real estate news and home ownership tips, keep reading our blogs.

9 Home Maintenance Items to Do This Fall

Prepare your home for the season by checking off these nine home maintenance items to do this fall.

Care for your trees and shrubbery.

That fall breeze and those brewing winter storms can cause a lot of ruckus. Be sure to trim your trees and prune your shrubs to avoid falling limbs that can cause damage to your home. 

Clean your gutters.

Those fallen autumn leaves can cause big issues for you in the winter if you don’t clean them out of your gutters and downspouts this season. Clogged gutters can create pooling water, resulting in roof leaks, wall leaks, peeling paint, wood rot, and siding and gutter damage. 

Have your chimney cleaned and inspected.

Before it gets too cold outside, make sure to get your chimney cleaned and inspected. And, if you don’t already have one, add a chimney cap in order to prevent critters from crawling in!

Check for any exterior repairs.

Walk around your property. Did you see any roof, siding or foundation damage? Get it repaired now before winter arrives!

In addition to your house, be sure to check that your driveway, walkways, stairs and railings are in good shape and sturdy for the cold that can bring snow and ice.

Turn off exterior faucets and store hoses.

Get ready to protect your pipes from low temperatures by shutting off the water to the exterior faucet. And don’t forget to drain your hoses and store them indoors. 

Add weather stripping. 

Applying weather stripping around your windows and doors can help keep out the cool weather and cut energy costs. You can also add door sweeps in order to keep the heat in.

Have your heating equipment checked.

One of the home maintenance items to do this fall that you definitely don’t want to skip is having your heating equipment checked. In addition to making sure your heating system is ready to perform in the cold, you will also want to make sure you are changing your air filters monthly. 

Clean dryer vents. 

Lint buildup in your dryer can cause your energy bill to go up, your dryer to work less efficiently and put your room at risk of fire. And with this season’s cool, dry weather increasing static electricity, that lint can be more prone to ignition, so now is the time to clean it out.

Check your smoke detectors.

Inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working. Be sure you put in fresh batteries, or if your detector has a power indicator light, make sure that it is on.

You will also want to press the test button to make sure the alarm sounds. 

Summary

With this checklist of nine home maintenance items to do this fall, your house will be set up for comfort and success in the coming seasons. For more home tips and real estate news, continue reading our blogs.

6 Moving Tips for Relocating Your Family

Moving, especially if it involves relocating to a new city, involves a lot of, well, moving parts. Since wondering where to begin is common, we’re sharing these moving tips for relocating your family that should help make it a smoother transition!

For our list of moving tips for relocating your family, we’re picking up at the point where you and your family have found your next dream home in a whole new place, and it’s time to get the move organized.

Make an informed decision.

First up on the list of moving tips for relocating your family is figuring out the basics. Ask yourself if the move is something you and your family can do yourselves or if you need to hire professionals.

Make a list of the pros and cons of each option. Discuss them with your family, including the kids if they are old enough to understand. Think about your budget and decide what works best for your situation.

Research the top movers.

If you decide to hire professional movers, do your research. Start by asking your Realtor if he or she has any recommendations. Search online, read reviews and call several recommended companies. Ask them questions. Compare services, prices and other factors before you decide which movers to hire.

Talk to your children about the move.

Typically, the sooner you talk to school-aged children about the upcoming move, the more time they will have to process and prepare. It can be hard to leave behind familiar environments, including friends and schools.

Encourage them to ask questions about the moving process, including the timeline. Answer any questions they may have about where you are moving, and start getting them excited about the new town.

Declutter, declutter, declutter!

One of the biggest moving tips for relocating your family is to declutter! Decluttering limits what you actually pack and move, which saves you money in the long run. Moving is the perfect time to go through and sort your belongings, only keeping what you know you will use.

Otherwise, sell items online or have a garage sale. Consider gifting items to family and friends or donating them to charity.

Collect free boxes.

Look for free boxes to help keep moving expenses down. Start by asking your family and friends if they have any boxes or if they know where you can find some.

You can also check with local retail stores and restaurants. They may have recycling piles you can sort through for cardboard boxes or plastic containers.

Start packing!

Packing is time consuming, so start packing as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to tackle the hardest parts of the house first, like closets and other storage areas, for example. Work your way toward the items you use every day until you’re all packed up.

Summary

There may be more helpful moving tips for relocating your family that your Realtor will be happy to share! Remember, “Realtor” is another word for “resource.” After all, they expertly guide you through the real estate process and help you connect with the right professionals like home inspectors, decorators, contractors and movers. For more real estate tips, keep reading our blogs!

In the News: Expansion of the AHFA’s Mortgage Savings Program

The Alabama Housing Finance Authority has officially opened its Mortgage Credit Certificate program to more home buyers! This expansion of the AHFA’s mortgage savings program is all thanks to new and increased income and sales price limits.

About the AHFA’s Mortgage Savings Program

First and foremost, let’s review what the Alabama Housing Finance Authority (AHFA) is. According to the Alabama Housing Finance Authority website, AHFA is dedicated to serving the housing needs of low- and moderate-income Alabamians by creating housing opportunities through affordable financing.

So, what exactly is the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program? The Mortgage Credit Certificate program is a savings option for Alabama homebuyers that provides a tax credit to reduce the amount of federal taxes owed by a percentage of the annual mortgage interest paid each year. The remaining annual interest can then still be claimed as a mortgage interest deduction on the homebuyer’s federal tax return.

The catch? Qualified homeowners must meet federally-established income and sales price limits, which have recently been increased!

Expansion of the AHFA’s Mortgage Savings Program

Set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the new income limits increased over 2022 by 8.2 percent due to increasing median incomes and economic gains.

Now, qualifying households can earn up to $111,440 annually, depending on location and family size.

In addition, the maximum sales prices for the home purchase has risen to $588,104 in “target” areas and $481,176 in “non-target” areas.

On an individual basis, the AHFA will verify each property’s location and apply the appropriate limit. This expansion of the AHFA’s mortgage savings program is huge and benefits many of MCC program participants.

Summary

The expansion of the AHFA’s mortgage savings program will ultimately save home buyers money and free up income to qualify for nicer homes.

For more industry news and real estate updates, continue reading our blogs.