Your first investment property: Be sure to count the cost!

Georgia W. Richardson | investment property

If you are thinking of owning investment property, here are some best- and worst-case considerations

Owning investment property is a dream come true for many people. But, it only takes one difficult tenant to turn that dream into a nightmare experience! And, navigating complicated ordinances and laws — that are often restrictive and unkind to landlords — can drive any property owner crazy!

Most landlords embrace the responsibilities that come with owning investment property. Who wants to be an insensitive landlord, or seen as money-hungry, greedy and only caring about collecting rents? Unfortunately, it’s the landlords who abuse investment property ownership that tend to make life difficult for the good landlords!

As a real estate professional, I’ve advocated on behalf of tenants AND landlords. When rental housing laws and guidelines are fair, the playing field is level, and everyone wins. In this blog post, we’ll explore the experience of becoming a landlord with your first investment property transaction.

Continue reading “Your first investment property: Be sure to count the cost!”

Divorcing? 7 Tips On Selling Your Real Estate

Georgia W. Richardson | divorcing

How to make informed decisions when divorcing, and keep emotions from complicating your transactions

Divorce is stressful enough without complicating the matter by disagreeing on how to divide or divest the family home, and other real property. While there are many laws that determine how to proceed with a sale in California, during my real estate career, I have seen several divestment scenarios associated with divorcing couples. Some worked out fair and friendly; other situations got bogged down by lots of anger and animosity!

There are several legal issues that must be explored once a couple decides to divorce, and real estate is in play. I always tell people under such circumstances to seek professional counseling, and/or retain an attorney.

One of the worse scenarios that I have heard of was a recent situation of a divorcing couple who decided to sell their property. They decided to handle the sale themselves, and, without attorney representation, retained a real estate agent.

During the selling process, the mortgage went unpaid for several months, with the intent of using the proceeds from the sale to play catch-up. The real estate agent who listed the property failed to provide pertinent documents, and failed to communicate the entire selling process. The agent’s guidance through the process was less-than-sound. The sellers failed to review documents with vital information pertinent to the sale — like the preliminary title report, which determines whether there were liens on the property, etc..

The sad outcome: The property went into foreclosure, leaving both parties with no recourse — or equity. By the time they sought counseling, it was too late! Foreclosure was scheduled only a few days after the plea for help.

How to have better outcomes

It is not my intent to give legal advice nor am I advocating divorce. If you have made the choice to part ways, here are seven things that, in my experiences as a real estate professional, contributed to favorable outcomes when selling real estate during a divorce:

  1. Consensus — Both parties agreed to divorce. When kids were involved, both parents wanted what was best for the children, with the least amount of negative impact.
  2. Representation — Each party had an attorney, or, the couple retained one mutually-agreed-upon representative.
  3. Expert knowledge — Both parties agreed a real estate professional should handle the sale. Both parties agreed upon a list price based on comparable sales in the area or upon a fee appraisal. Both parties were willing to make a price adjustment if the market demand did not support the list price.
  4. Constant communication — Talking between the principles is vital, whether among themselves or through representatives. When real estate professionals were involved, they worked with the principles and attorneys to work through legal issues, court orders and extenuating circumstances.
  5. Un-biased, market-driven transactions — If one party buys-out the other, a professional, independent appraisal value determined the payout. If a refinance was necessary to gain access to the equity in the property, the lender determined the value.
  6. Even distribution of proceeds — When calculating the payout, the party keeping the property either made an allowance for the selling costs and split the remaining equity (in case they decide to sell at some future date), or, the total equity distributed, with the anticipation that the property may appreciate over time and the selling costs recouped down the road. If a sale takes place in a less-than-favorable market, the person retaining the home understood they may take a loss after deducting the selling costs.
  7. Credit history protected — Mortgage, taxes, insurance payments and other household expenses were paid on-time during the sales process, and through the close of escrow. Maintaining good credit during this time is vital, since one or both parties may be likely to finance another property in the future.

Don’t let the current state of your finances drive your decision whether to seek outside help. Explore social services or financial counselors that work pro bono. If you have enough equity in the property, there are attorneys and real estate consultants who will wait for payment from the proceeds of the sale.

If divorce is the only recourse, get sound legal advice, work with qualified, experienced real estate professionals, and put in the work needed to understand the process. You have the right to the best possible outcome for all parties concerned. Call me today for help with navigating your choices.

Click through this online publication, “How To Get a Divorce in California” and dig into the topics listed below relative to divorce and dividing real estate and other assets.

  • How can my spouse and I divide our assets under California divorce laws?
  • Do our divorce laws allow a spouse to keep property or assets acquired before marriage?
  • What do California divorce laws consider community property?
  • How do our State’s divorce laws change?
  • How are debts divided under California divorce laws?
  • California divorce laws and reimbursement claims related to the home
  • California divorce laws and inherited property
  • What is considered separate property under our divorce laws?

Image: Shutterstock/jiris

How to embrace the future of real estate

G. W. Richardson | future of real estate

Technology innovations are fueling rapid change in the future of real estate residential sales transactions

My first income-producing job was filing Multiple Listing Service sheets one-at-a-time, in a folder, while working with my mom in a small Ohio real estate brokerage. In those days, there was lots of lag time before receiving information on new listings. Over the years, access to listings evolved, with the production of MLS books and then online listings, available only to agents, and controlled by local and state chapters of the National Association of REALTORS®, the legislative body of real estate that advocates for the rights of property owners.

Today, professional associations are still the primary source for real estate-related information, but over the years, technology companies have challenged traditional real estate industry models.

Now, many potential buyers and sellers go to sites like Zillow to view property values and sales statistics in their area. And, lots of consumer-friendly software has been developed that allows access to information once available only to real estate licensees.

Through all of that, the transaction process has remained the same, but the future of real estate is changing the way we communicate and interact with clients.

Real estate brokerage models — another cycle of change is here

Though traditional real estate brokerages still exist, they must adjust to the technological changes and embrace working with agents who work for non-traditional brokerages. These agents may have different approaches to listing and selling real estate.

Innovative companies like eXp Realty have developed cloud-based, virtual real estate models that appeal to tech savvy real estate professionals — many of whom are millennials. Billed as “The Agent-Owned Cloud Brokerage®,” eXp Realty still puts the real estate professional at the center of every transaction, however, the methods of disseminating info and interacting with clients changes. Internet entrepreneur Brad Inman says eXp Realty is one of the most innovative real estate companies in the world. This agent-owned cloud-based brokerage is revolutionizing the way we assist our clients and managing the listing, selling and escrow process.

EXp Realty recognizes the need for real estate professionals, who are independent contractors, to have retirement benefits through profit-sharing and stock ownership. With the eXp Realty business model, real estate professionals who are willing to embrace the learning curve have an opportunity to build a business with retirement benefits.

Traditionally-trained (a.k.a. “Old School”) real estate pros must embrace the fact that transacting business through cloud-based offices is the near future of real estate. Millennial licensees — who live and breathe social media, online services and are often technology whizzes — are finding the cloud-based business model exciting!

Keller Williams is another realty brokerage that offers profit-sharing, and ways to build a real estate business in a non-traditional fashion. KW has open-door policy on agent training, for new licensees, and for seasoned agents needing to brush up on their technical skills and industry trends. KW’s transparency, and willingness to educate and offer tools for success, makes them one of the top real estate training organizations in the world.

Time to reinvent and re-educate

All markets have a cycle, real estate included; I have experienced many real estate market cycles. With each downturn or surge came greater public awareness, greater access to data, new technology, new laws, and new brokerage models.

Right now is an exciting time, if you embrace the philosophy behind the Infinite Success Alliance Market Cycle, espoused by Rick Glade, which says “…in any market cycle there are Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards. All products and services have a life cycle. The time to reinvent or sell-out is during the euphoric state of market share.”

Buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals, should utilize all the technological resources and tools available, and become educated on market trends.

Change is inevitable in the future of real estate… embrace it

To arrange a personalized session to explore the changes we face and how you can adapt, please contact me!

Comment below, and offer your experience with change and how you’ve adapted.

Photo: Shutterstock

Transitioning out of real estate? Things to consider when contemplating your next move

Georgia W. Richardson | transitioning

When thoughts of getting out of the business of real estate cross your mind, here are some key considerations before transitioning

If you are a real estate broker or sales associate thinking of transitioning out of real estate by selling your firm or, transferring responsibility for your accounts to other agents, there are some important considerations to make before deciding the fate of your business.

One important facet to examine is whether getting out of the business is truly necessary, or, perhaps your approach to doing business just needs some fine-tuning.

Let’s examine some typical scenarios, and delve into possible approaches.

1) You’ve built a consistent, successful business, and want to sell or transfer the business to another agent or family member

The best medicine for this scenario: Be prepared. We never know what life situation or challenge may be served up to us at any time. In order to “go out on top,” avoid letting some life-shattering event or circumstance force a transition. Before change is forced upon you, select someone who you know values and transacts business much in the same manner as you. Find someone who will care about your client’s needs and value the relationships you’ve built over the years. Enlist the aid of accountants and lawyers representing both parties, to discuss an orderly transition, and prepare the proper documentation — just as one would prepare a will. Make provisions in the agreement regarding whether/how much you will be expected to remain in touch with your current and former clients. Before stepping away, talk with clients, and inform them of the transition, so the value of your portfolio will remain.

2) You’re thinking about transitioning out of real estate because you’re burnt-out

My suggestion here: Count the cost! Make sure that you have your ducks lined up so your financial obligations can be met, as you work toward a different income stream. Plan ahead and start creating an exit strategy that will work for you. Consider how to build passive income through referrals you make to other agents.

3) After several years in real estate, transitioning out is a consideration, but you don’t have a retirement fund and medical plan in place to sustain your lifestyle or cover your cost-of-living, health care, etc.

The demands of the California economy have pushed many agents into this category. Lots of agents have pretty much spent their pending escrow checks before they are received, leaving no room for savings! Some people have another source of income to count on — for example, a spouse or significant other — but, for single agents going it alone, life can be a struggle while trying to grow a real estate business.

My suggestion: partner with a team, form a collaborative effort, and strategize how to grow your business beyond yourself. Stick to your strengths, and delegate to others who have different strengths that are necessary for completing a transaction. You may give up some commission, but you may increase your volume, with less stress and burn-out. The newer, recent real estate models foster this approach. A more agent-centric environment and the training offered in these models helps propel your success.

4) You’re living commission check-to-commission check, with no clear business plan

Get serious and develop a plan to generate a pipeline of continual business. Outline the activities that will help you reach your financial goals, then STICK TO YOUR PLAN! Your broker or an independent consultant can help you nail down specific actions that will lead to progress. Speak with your CPA for help with budgeting, and put aside a portion of your commission checks toward retirement.

5) You’re tired of juggling your real estate career with a second career to make ends meet

Evaluate how successful you have been at doing both careers. Balancing several pursuits makes it hard to focus on your personal financial needs, and still provide good customer service, build relationships and load your pipeline with repeat business. Agents with the energy and wherewithal to handle this effectively are a rare breed! A great team and/or office support is key.

6) You’re unsure if you still enjoy selling real estate

This is a crucial, fundamental issue. Doing well with a job or career path we don’t enjoy is very difficult. When the work becomes simply a means to an end, clients will sense you are just in it for the commission, and doubt whether you have their best interest at heart. The reward for providing great service and/or a great product is exponential growth in revenue. Do an over the top job and your revenue will grow.

7) You have another source of income, i.e., spouse, significant other, pension, rental income, investment dividends

Getting too comfortable in this scenario could be unwise. You might have the best of both worlds, which allows you to focus on service to your clients without the concern of how you’ll pay for the basics. However, the one thing in life that is consistent is change! Don’t get blindsided when change happens! Manage your life as though your business is your only source of income.

8) The stress of your real estate business has begun affecting your health

Consider all of your options. Health comes first! You’ll find it difficult to do ANY job well, without good health! You must first take care of YOU, before you can take care of others well.

9) You’ve got more going out than coming in, and are frustrated because your investment into your business has shown little results

The most difficult part of being an independent contractor/entrepreneur is DISCIPLINE! This means putting together a business plan and sticking to it. Take the time to map out your desired financial results, and determine what activities and client/customer service goals are needed to accomplish your financial goals. Then, find an engaging broker, accountability partner or coach who is going to hold you accountable for what you do or don’t do. Being “independent” doesn’t have to mean “go it alone.”

These are all scenarios you might face at some point, whether you have been a seasoned agent/broker in the industry for only a few years, or for many years. Do a self-examination, and take the time to think about these and many more issues that will arise.

Feel free to contact me, and set-up a time when we can discuss how to enlist my help with nailing-down your next move.

If you’ve battled through experiences like these, please Comment below, and share your results with us!

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: What Realtors® think

Georgia R. Richardson | Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1, has the potential to erode the financial power of homeowners

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is the largest trade organization in the U.S. dedicated to advocating for the residential and commercial real estate industries. NAR opposes the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act because, “…this bill will diminish the opportunity for homeownership for millions of middle-class families.” NAR has issued a call for action, asking members to contact their congressional representatives, voice opposition to this bill, and warn about how it threatens the real estate industry.

Rather than read the entire bill, save time by reviewing the section-by-section summary on the Ways and Means Committee website HERE. Once you have read the summary, please reach out to the legislator for your district to express your concerns about this bill, and its impact on homeownership among middle class Americans. If you are a REALTOR®, REALTIST® or work in the U.S. real estate industry in any capacity, speak out, and hold your lawmakers accountable for decisions that could have major impacts on homeownership, and the real estate profession.

Industry impacts

One impact on the real estate industry will be the bill’s affect on a home seller’s equity and retirement goals. For many homeowners, real estate property is their single most important and valuable asset, making up the majority of their net worth. For current and future homeowners, the major concern is the threat of removing tax deductions on home mortgage loans. The congressional tax reform proposal could erode the fundamental dream of homeownership in California and other states where Median Home Prices and loan amounts exceed the $500,000 allowable deduction on new mortgage debt.

Without the mortgage deduction incentive, many people will choose renting versus buying. While renting is a viable option, it’s homeownership that builds long term wealth for most Americans.

Increasing taxes

To quote Iona Harrison, chair of NAR’s Federal Taxation Committee, who has testified on behalf of NAR on Capitol Hill regarding tax reform and homeownership, “…an analysis by the committee showed that under the GOP tax proposal, homeowner households with $50,000 to $200,000 in annual income would pay $815 more in taxes per year,” says Harrison. “Coupled with the proposed elimination of other itemized deductions, the tax plan could spur a housing downturn if enacted.”

“The bottom line is removing tax incentives means fewer home buyers and lower home values.”

Will The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act really make homeowning unaffordable?

One of the points of view I’ve read contrary to the NAR argument is an article on Forbes.com by Jeff Dorfman, a professor of economics at The University of Georgia:

“Housing is not being made unaffordable by the proposed tax reform since the vast majority of Americans will receive a moderate tax cut under the plan. Home builders and realtors seem concerned that a few rich Americans might not buy as expensive houses without as big a tax break, even though they will have more disposable income. I think they are wrong. Americans, particularly higher-income ones, like to buy stuff, especially expensive stuff, and will likely continue to buy expensive houses. If there is some adjustment in home buying demand on the higher end, high-end home builders can build more homes that are slightly less expensive. The world is not ending.”

Get educated, and make your opinion known

I implore you to do your due diligence regarding this bill and step up to protect California homeownership rights. Even someone who is not yet a homeowner should be concerned about the loss of financial benefits to homeownership, and the about the effect on business enterprise interest.

Perhaps in other states, where median home prices are much lower, this reform might make sense. But, by no means are Californians who can afford loans of $500K or more, considered rich! This will have deep impacts on the middle/working class in California.

Be informed, do your homework, and act now by expressing to your member of Congress what you think of this bill, and it’s impact on Californians.

Safety tips for real estate professionals

Georgia W. Richardson | safety

Best practices to ensure safety in your day-to-day business activities

Often, people do not start to think about safety until something devastating happens to trigger an awareness. We don’t think about safety unless we “feel” unsafe.

Most people are unaware of the high risk that comes with working in the real estate industry. Too often, real estate professionals fail to incorporate safety strategies into their day-to-day real estate practice.

Real estate agents are very vulnerable during the course of their day. Often, you meet a potential client/buyer over the phone and agree to meet at a listing they wish to view. This is usually someone you’ve never met or known prior to the encounter. With the excitement of potentially procuring a new client, some agents act impulsively and assume that the caller is a bonafide buyer.

Another scenario: Open houses, where potential buyers preview homes during hours established by the local industry… usually on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Strangers come in and out at will. The agent is especially vulnerable in vacant homes, and homes in remote, woodsy or secluded areas.

Listings are gold so, any time you get a potential listing opportunity, safety can be furthest from your mind. Precautions should be taken when going on what you assume is a legitimate listing appointment.

Establish best safety practices in your day-to-day business activities

Most large corporate real estate offices have protocols and safety practices for their agents. Since most licensed real estate agents are independent contractors, they typically run their own businesses within the corporate environment and structure. The company typically does not dictate how an agents manage their business practices as long as real estate code of ethics or real estate laws are followed in the course of their business dealings. That being said, licensees should establish their own personal safety protocol.

Some common Safety Commandments published in REALTOR® Magazine include:

  1. Don’t meet a stranger at any property Set up appointments at your office so others in your office can see the potential buyer. You can take another agent or family member with you. Agents often work in partnerships so, this would not be unusual.
  2. Drive your own car Have the buyer follow you, or, you drive them in your car. An exception: You personally know the buyers or sellers, or, they are referred by a credible source. It is still a better practice to drive your own car.
  3. Limit your showings to daylight hours, and avoid working after dark. If necessary to work after dark, take a partner.
  4. Dress for safety Dress professionally and do not wear flashy jewelry or anything that would attract undo attention to yourself. Avoid carrying a large amount of cash.
  5. Arrange a showing itinerary Use a standard office form, or, create a form that shows the properties being shown. Make sure the buyer is aware that the list exists. Leave a copy at your office with someone, or, with a family member.
  6. Prior to showing a property, verify who you are meeting Complete a “prospect ID form,” a printed office or custom form that requests the buyer’s name, address, auto make and model, auto tag, driver’s license and references. This is not a step practiced in our local market but is a great idea. Only show properties to persons who are willing to provide this info. A loss of a client is better than the risk of losing your life!
  7. Use an agent ID form Make sure your office knows your car’s make and model, vehicle license tag number and your cell number.
  8. Set a coded distress signal Establish a coded message that appears to be a harmless routine call that you can make to your office or home that serves as an alert to someone if you are in a situation that appears to be unsafe.
  9. If you pick up on something suspicious, stop working immediately If you pick up on anything suspicious such as: inconsistent answers from the potential client, or any abnormal behavior or anything that sends a signal that something is not right. Stop working and trust your gut. Make an excuse to leave immediately. Like, “OMG, I forgot I have to pick up my [son/daughter from school, a friend’s house, the day care, etc.]”
  10. Notify your Broker immediately Your broker (if they are available) should decide what action to take if you feel threatened. I would rely on my instincts depending on the situation take the necessary course of action, which could be to notify the police.

Source: “The 10 Commandments of Real Estate Agent Safety”

My personal additions to the above are:

  1. Be proactive and think through your strategies in the event of a threat.
  2. Pre-approve all buyers with a lender prior to showing them property. This is also a way to confirm they are who they claim to be.
  3. Preview properties before showing, so that you know what areas to avoid that might put you in harm’s way. Let the clients view those areas alone while you stay near an exit.
  4. Let the potential clients walk in front of you as you approach various rooms in a home, especially in vacant homes. Keep them in your range of sight whenever possible without putting yourself in a compromised situation i.e. basements, remote areas, detached garages, etc.
  5. If the potential clients are whispering regularly and not openly discussing the property being shown, be on alert or interrupt and ask if they have questions you can answer.
  6. Leave your business card at the property for the seller to know who has shown their home. This will make it easier to trace your steps if foul play occurs.
  7. While you are showing the property, take pictures of the house interior as though it’s routine, capturing the buyers in at least one of the photos.
  8. Buyers who insist on a rushed visit without allowing you time to do a thorough, professional job of showing the property rarely buy the property they are so anxious to see.

Safety at the touch of a button

A variety of safety applications designed for real estate professionals are now available to install on your phone. I suggest trying out all of them, until you find one an app that works with your particular cell phone type and service. When you have to make quick safety judgements or take action to prevent being a victim, a phone app may be the answer, and could save your life. While an app might be convenient, nothing takes the place of common sense, preventative precautions and measures. One can never be too careful.

There are professional criminals who bank on an agent’s eagerness to make a commission, hoping safety is not in the forefront of the agent’s mind.  Put your safety first! Be aware and be extra cautious. You have only one life! Protect it by using good sound judgement and wisdom in all your real estate dealings.

Feel free to contact me for help with reviewing your personal strategies, to  speak with your group.

READ ALSO: Planning Your Safety Strategy

Conference speakers tout wealth building through homeownership

Georgia W. Richardson | homeownership

More education, removing barriers, enabling low-income buyers seen as vital to improving rate of homeownership among African-Americans

Tue, October 3, 2017, the Associated Real Property Brokers, also known as ARPB, hosted the 2nd Annual Real Estate Realtist Summit at the Hilton Garden Inn in Emeryville.

The speakers were phenomenal as they addressed the state of homeownership and disparities in the California housing market.

Carol Galante is the I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor in Affordable Housing and Urban Policy and the Faculty Director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley.  According professor Galante, California needs new mortgage products and affordable housing units. “Today’s housing issues exacerbate a continuously uneven housing recovery,” said Ms. Galante. Contributing to the lack of progress in building more units is the cost of production, which, according to Ms. Galante, has gone up by double-digits every year.

Making it more affordable to build in California

Ms. Galante named some strategic solutions at the state level that would make building housing more affordable. Revisiting building codes, streamlining the project approval process, innovating production, and creating new financing products were listed. She said more sources for funding infrastructure and public services would also be important, since Governor Jerry Brown did away with the pool for funding infrastructure in urban communities. Ms. Galante also said removing barriers for selling multiple units would be helpful.

Some of strategies at the federal level mentioned by Ms. Galante that could address the housing crisis include: modernizing the US Federal Housing Administration (FHA), organizing for greater responsiveness to changes in the market, removing barriers to affordable development, and, making first-time home buyer credits permanent.

Helping low-income people buy real estate

Gayle Bryce, Vice President and Business Development Officer at Citi, was formerly Senior Housing Professional at Freddie Mac. Ms. Bryce shared information on the programs available to assist low-income people buy real estate. One of the underlying issues in the Black community is lack of education on what options are available in the home buying process. “What is believed versus facts – most don’t know or understand what they are getting into,” said Ms. Bryce. She went on to discuss various loan products like the Home Ready Mortgage Program, and various down payment assistance programs that exist.

According to Ms. Bryce, the Home Ready program has low, affordable down payment options, with maximum debt-to-income ratios of 40 to 49 percent. While these programs have various stipulations, the point is most low-to-moderate income buyers don’t even know they exist, and, instead chose to rent rather than purchase a home.

Other loan programs can be researched at https://downpaymentresource.com/.

Mark E. Alston, owner of Skyway Realty and Alston & Associates Mortgage Company, is also Chair of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers Political Action Committee. He said, of the estimated 39,849,872 people living in California, there are around 993, 535 who hold mortgages. Fifty percent are held by Whites, 18 percent by Hispanics, 14 percent by Asians and only 3 percent by African Americans!

One other statistic stood out: Some 56 percent of California residents are considering moving to a state with more affordable housing.

Mr. Alston said the conversation needs to be about empowerment through promoting partnerships and education, finding solutions to fixing the existing system, and changing the narrative and the mindset about homeownership.

Homeownership: the best wealth-building process

Many potential buyers have given up hope that they can ever buy a home in California. These people settle for upgrading their location by renting, and spend discretionary dollars on lifestyle luxuries and depreciating assets, such as cars.

The best wealth-building tool lies in owning a home and other real estate investments.

Though the economy ebbs and flows, those who purchase real estate should avoid getting over-leveraged. Real estate owners who can retain their property investments are building wealth at a more rapid pace than typical investments like retirement funds. A majority of the average real estate owner’s net worth is in the equity of real estate-related investments.

The system is not geared towards the underserved and poor, and policy changes — or enforcing existing policies — needs to be the focus. The trends are especially pushing Black people and other low-income groups to rent rather than to own. This is not OK!

Anyone unsure about whether they can buy should do some research, ask questions and explore all the options based on their current situation. Taking part in the American Dream of homeownership, wealth building and leaving an inheritance is possible!

Discussing senior living and care options, preparing documents important

Georgia W. Richardson | senior living and care
Photo: U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, there are decisions to be made before a health crisis or death impacts the family; reviewing senior living and care options important

Too often I’ve seen children and parents reluctant to talk about the inevitable… we all transition from this life, one day. If you’re unprepared, handling family matters could lead to chaos! I’ve seen disagreements over arrangements and business matters, drive family members to never speak again.

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, decisions should be made before a health crisis impacts your family.

Avoiding Benefits-Paid Liens and Forced Sales

One very important consideration for real estate owners:  Being forced to sell property to settle healthcare-related expenses and benefits.

Often, when insurance runs out after illness strikes, the real property of the sick person is liquidated and applied to debts. And, under Medicaid law, after a Medicaid recipient dies, a state must try and recover from the estate any long-term care benefits paid, such as nursing home costs.

When faced with potential long-term, catastrophic illness of a senior, families should explore taking all property out of the senior’s name, or, establish a trust to hold the property, and protect it from potential forced sales and liens.

You can read more about this issue HERE.

The process of protecting assets from being liquidated is complex. There is a small window prior to a death that the transfer of property must happen, in order to be valid protection. If my experience in helping people navigate these waters could be useful to you, please feel free to reach out.

Handling paperwork: Hope for best, prepare for worst

A will is a legal document used to dispose of personal property at death. Wills can also name people to do important jobs, such as allocating personal representatives or executor of one’s estate.

Preparation of documents like a will, living trust, advance health directive, power of attorney, burial arrangements, insurance policy terms and conditions, etc. should be discussed openly between loved ones — or at least with the family member named or appointed executor or trustee of the estate.

Being prepared helps families find it easier to process the loss of loved one. Trying to take care of business matters while dealing with the death of a loved one makes the situation even more emotionally charged and stressful. Make informed decisions that family members agree upon — now. Death and tragedy are part of life. Loved ones should prepare and leave clear directions for how they want things carried out when tragedy strikes.

Make informed decisions on senior living and care

An important tool in making those conversations easier can be found on the internet.

A great source for senior living and care options is only a click away! When I was actively listing and selling homes, one of the publications that I offered to my clients and geographic market area (sellers) was “New LifeStyles,” a publication with wealth of information and answers to many questions you may have about senior living and care options. Today, the information is even easier to access online at www.newlifestyles.com. You’ll find information and listings of various senior living and care options including the following categories, then this is your one-stop-information portal.

Examples of the info found there include:

  • Independent Living –Communities where seniors live independently in their own home/unit.
  • Assisted Living – A combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care
  • Care Homes – Usually single family homes licensed to provide assistance with medications, bathing, & dressing.
  • Respite Care – Temporary care available for short-term stays or specified hours.
  • Memory Care – Communities offering specialized programs for residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss and dementia.
  • Nursing Homes – Communities licensed to provide health care and services involved in managing complex and potentially serious medical problems.
  • Home Care – Includes providers of licensed health care services in the home, hospital, or residential homes, and companies that provide non-medical assistance.
  • Hospice Care – Provided in the home or a senior care community. Services can include pain management and a variety of emotional, spiritual and physical support.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities – A CCRC combines independent living, assisted living, nursing and sometimes memory care in a single setting.
  • Products & Services – Financial, health-related and other valuable products and services designed to meet the varying needs of mature adults.
Georgia W. Richardson | Guide to Senior Living & Care
The Guide to Senior Living and Care. Photo: New LifeStyles.

Presenting your loved ones with a hard copy of the Guide to Senior Living and Care or directing them to this website is a great way to introduce the subject. Review the info at your leisure, with no pressure to take immediate action. The guide provides useful information that will help you prepare for making tough decisions BEFORE the time comes. The publication is well-organized, and provides a wealth of resources including senior programs and services, both public and private. There are different publications for different regions so, first identify your coverage area, and order the appropriate guide.

Don’t procrastinate, go online and download or subscribe to this publication today — you’ll be glad you did!

How to survive getting started as a real estate sales agent

Georgia W. Richardson | real estate sales agent
Photo: GotCredit.com

Tips for a successful beginning to your career as a real estate sales agent

There are lots of millennials interested becoming a real estate sales agent. From taking courses in college classrooms or online, to pursuing a real estate license, it’s awesome that the next generation of people filling out real estate sales careers is taking shape! And, many mature people seeking a career change are joining the real estate sales profession.

If you are considering becoming a real estate sales agent, first, talk with people already in the industry, and get a firm understanding of what you’re getting into, by entering the real estate sales industry.

Once you have made the decision to charge ahead, here are a few tips to use, once you are licensed:

Do your homework

A real estate sales agent is almost always a commission-only independent contractor. As a real estate sales agent, you must have a broker supervising your transactions. Join a broker’s office that embraces, and is successful at, training new agents. Do the homework that will help you select the working environment that offers you the best chance at success. A lot of your commission will go to the broker, but the trade-off is the training — at least until you earn the annual income it takes to get you to the next commission split level.

When brokers interview you, they will be trying to gauge your drive and ambition. Every broker knows what makes a great real estate sales agent. Being clear about what motivates you will go a long way towards helping you land a spot as a real estate sales agent.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Upon becoming a licensed real estate sales agent, focus on managing your real estate sales income carefully. Being prepared for the long on-ramp to your first few real estate sales is an important step. Your first transaction can take 30-to-60 days to close, from the beginning to the end of the real estate sales process. So, creating a capital reserve that will last you at least six months is crucial. It could be that long before you earn your first commission check! You must have enough reserve funds to support your lifestyle, and the cost of doing business, i.e.: dues, fees, taxes, customized marketing materials, electronics, and other business tools. A cash reserve will help you be focused and effective in your first year.

And, since real estate sales, like most other sales-oriented professions, is cyclical, having funds available to help you weather the ups-and-downs of the market is key. All boon years come to an end… budget for surviving the down cycles. Market downturns force many agents to leave the business, because they failed to budget and manage their commission dollars.

Moving on up

Once you have launched your shiny, new real estate sales agent career, connect with seasoned agents, and stay in touch. Listen to their advice, and find out their keys to success. Ultimately, you have to make your own path to success, but you’ll get enough to help you make informed decisions along the way to your success.

In addition to the traditional ways of procuring listings and buyers, find a niche market that uniquely suits you i.e.; buyer’s agent, probates, investment properties, condos, multiple units, relocation services, etc.

This is just the tip of the “getting started” iceberg! Good luck on a prosperous future! Feel free to drop me a line with your questions about how to succeed in real estate sales.