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February
5

The In's and Out's of Becoming a Licensed Real Estate Agent in Virginia

To obtain a License to sell real estate in the state of Virginia an individual must attend an approved required 60 hour pre-licensing course called Principles of Real Estate.  This course is offered in several different formats.

1) Community Colleges and Universities such as Virginia Tech and New River Community College have offered this class in a semester long format.

2) Correspondence courses provide printed materials for self-study and are available through Moseley Real Estate School and other providers.

3) Online study is available through McKissock and other providers.

4) Classroom format is available at our Old Dominion Harrisonburg Office. We have partnered with Moseley Real Estate School to offer this service.  Visit the Career page at ODRVA.com for more information.

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation webpage identifies all approved providers for the Principles Class at this URL:

http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/uploadedFiles/MainSite/Content/Boards/Real_Estate/A490-02PRE_LIC_CRS.pdf

Once the classroom work is complete, a candidate must schedule and sit for 2 portions of a PSI examination and pass the National and State portions of that exam.  When both portions of this exam have been passed an applicant can then apply for a license at DPOR (Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation) or REB (Real Estate Board).

 

Cost:  Note*-these figures are based on estimates and average costs of fees to get started.

Fee

 Cost

Pre-licensing Course

 $                           350.00

Examination Fee

 $                              60.00

HRAR New Realtor Application Fee

 $                           125.00

Initiation/Orientation Fee

 $                           100.00

VAR New Member Fee

 $                           100.00

New MLS User Fee

 $                           150.00

Lockbox Card Issuance Fee

 $                              50.00

Total Investment

 $                           935.00

 

*These costs are an estimate. Actual costs may vary according to area.

Author of this blog article: Micah Branson

 

November
14

Selling a house can be challenging, especially if for sellers that are new to the real estate world and have never before attempted to list a property. These sellers may be tempted to price a home high and try to get as much for it as they can. Unfortunately, there are many problems that can result from overpriced homes, for both the seller and the general market.
Overpriced image

Time Investment

Those that are selling a home and list it too high will find that it may linger on the market, which drags out the selling process. The longer a house is for sale, the more time must be invested with showings, cleanings, and negotiations with potential buyers. This also means that a home will lose out on the newness factor that often helps property on the market get sold.

Less Chance Of A High Final Sell Price

Overpriced homes do not generate as much interest in the market as similar homes that are priced reasonably. For this reason, they tend to stay on the market longer. The longer a home is on the market, the further down the price will go. This means that people that price their home too high initially will often wind up getting below market value because the house has been listed for such a long period of time.

Impact On Local Markets

If several houses in a single area are listed for sale for a price that is too high, it may cause issues for the housing market in a given region. The combined effect of many overpriced homes can lead to the creation of a bubble in that market. While overpriced homes may lead to more profits up front, they are not good for the future and long-term sustainability of the market. After buying a new home for a high price based on the profits they made from the sale of an overpriced house, some sellers may find that the next place they move to goes down in value. When this happens on a widespread basis, it has serious economic repercussions.

Pricing a home can be a tricky challenge. For those that are selling a place in the Virginia or West Virginia area, the seasoned team at Old Dominion Realty is readily available to help. The experts at Old Dominion will keep any property from becoming one of the overpriced homes in its market.

October
23

The government shutdown has impacted people in all states and industries. In the housing market, the shutdown has caused serious issues when it comes to processing loans, verifying buyer information, and conducting transactions for housing purchases. The state of Virginia has specifically been hit hard because of its large number of federal workers and members of the military.

The Shutdown's Impact On Housing

Government shutdown

Throughout the country, the government shutdown has caused some serious challenges for people that are looking to buy a new house. Loans that were going to be approved by the FHA or Federal Housing Administration are backed up because of the shutdown. Even private mortgage market companies that are not government entities were impacted by the shutdown because their pending loans could not be researched properly: the IRS was unavailable to verify the income of someone trying to purchase a house or get information about them by researching their social security number through the Social Security Administration.

Effects Felt By Virginia

Virginia in particular has seen drastic impacts on its economy and housing market because of the large impact the government has in the area. According to the Vienna, VA Patch, Virginia is one of the five states with the most federal workers per capita, the most federal contract money per capita, and the most veterans per capita. Without income from government contracts or benefits from the Veterans Administration, even those that are not directly employed by the federal government felt the sting of the shutdown. And while many government employees that were furloughed will get what they were owed during the time that the government was shut down, many contractors saw pending awards simply vanish because of the government shutdown. Without these valuable federal dollars it is difficult, if not impossible, for many in Virginia to purchase a home.

Although it is now over, the government shutdown had a ripple impact on markets in all areas of the country. In Virginia, the real estate market was hit because of the state's huge presence of federal workers and contractors. Buyers or sellers that are interested in navigating the post-shutdown housing market should get help from specialists like the ones at Old Dominion Realty.

August
27

Real estate title insurance helps to protect the most valuable piece of property most people ever own: their home. Just like with other types of insurance, the policyholder receives protection from potential financial loss.

Title Insurance photo courtesy of titlehub.com

What is a Title?

When an individual purchases a home, what they are purchasing is the title to the property. The title is what provides them with the right to occupy the property. If they do not own the title, they do not own the property. There are various hazards that can affect an individual's right to title and thus their investment.

Title Hazards

These include:

  • Forged deeds or mortgages.
  • Deeds signed by people who were not of legal age.
  • Deeds signed by mentally incompetent people.
  • Deeds procured fraudulently or under duress.
  • Deeds that contain the wrong wording or wrong names.
  • Pending legal actions against the property.
  • An heir to the property who was presumed dead.

If a homebuyer's right to title is challenged, they could spend a lot of money defending their ownership of the home; they also run the risk of losing the home itself.

How Title Insurance Provides Protection

Real estate title insurance will pay the attorneys' fees and court costs a homeowner will incur as they attempt to defend their ownership; it will also cover their losses should they lose the home. Lenders will make the purchase of title insurance a condition of the home loan, but that will only cover their interest in the property so homeowners should ensure that they have their own policy as well. Title insurance is essential because even with the most thorough examination of public records there still remains the potential for hidden risks. Additionally, there are some problems that cannot be uncovered in a search and which may only emerge after closing.

How is Title Insurance Purchased?

The homeowner will pay a premium once at closing. The policy they purchase will provide protection for the duration of their ownership of the property. Prior to insuring the property, the records will be examined by a professional examiner, verifying that the title is clean; after this step will the insurance company provide protection to the homeowner against challenges to title.

Real estate title insurance exists to provide peace of mind for the homeowner; with it, they can rest assured that their investment in their home is safe. If you have questions about title insurance contact an Old Dominion Realty expert today.

 

December
27

The strange sound you hear coming from the TV is not a problem with reception, but perception.  It's the media's opinion regarding the "impending doom" certain to hit the nation as the fiscal cliff deadline quickly approaches. 

Since none of us has a remote control that fast forwards our lives like Adam Sandler's character in Click, we can only guess on how the fiscal cliff will impact our lives—especially for those in the real estate market.

As Washington's lawmakers meet for negotiations, media reports abound about increased taxes, higher unemployment, decreased business spending, debt ceiling doubts, and expiring unemployment deadlines.  If you listen (and read) carefully, terms like "could," "possible" and "might" are sprinkled throughout the reports. The truth is none of us knows for sure what is going to happen. 

Many Old Dominion Realty customers have voiced concern regarding the fiscal cliff and future real estate transactions.  Let's take a look at the facts surrounding the fiscal cliff and its impact on the US housing industry.

Bipartisan cooperation is lacking during these Washington summits, allowing each side to create its own agenda for scaling different sides of the cliff instead of working together.  Regardless of how politicians deal with the fiscal cliff, real estate markets — now seeing a boost in activity — will be influenced.  The question is how?

Much will depend upon how the combination of government spending reductions and tax cut expirations are handled. If Washington takes a moderate approach (extending tax cuts and the mortgage interest deductions), financial experts feel the results on housing would be positive.

If elected officials opt for allowing tax cuts to expire, cutting government spending, and eliminating mortgage interest tax deductions, the outcome for the now-healing housing market would have an opposite effect.

In a recent article on Investors.com Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia.com, stated, "The best-case scenario is a deal that avoids sharp tax increases and spending cuts next year.  With that kind of deal, you would avoid stalling or reversing the economic recovery while at the same time creating a long-term path for getting the government budget more in balance."

There are three possible scenarios:

  1. No agreement is reached.  Tax cuts expire, taxes increase, and deep government spending cuts are applied. The overall real estate market would suffer negative consequences. From a homebuyer's standpoint, this would mean higher tax rates and less take home dollars.  Potential homebuyers would have less money to spend and have no choice but to purchase a lower priced property or even to postpone their home purchase entirely.

Some experts feel a combination of spending cuts and tax increases would catapult the country's economy back into a recession—never a positive sign for the real estate industry.

  1. Democratic Party's Answer to Fiscal Cliff.  Under this proposal, tax rates are increased on households earning more than $250,000.  This option leaves tax deductions and mortgage interest deductions unscathed for the most part except for the luxury real estate market.
  2. Republication Party's Answer to Fiscal Cliff – The Republication party's answer involves generating $800 billion in new revenues.  Bush tax cuts would be extended for one year with revenue being raised in other areas including ending tax breaks.  The elimination of which tax breaks have not been detailed, but experts feel the mortgage interest deduction would definitely be "on the chopping block".

The primary worry for most homeowners is how Washington will handle tax deductions for home mortgages.  On one side, Washington appears to be considering reducing it or eliminating it because it represents about a $100 billion loss in annual revenue for the government.  On the other side, the mortgage interest deduction supports the US housing market by making home ownership more affordable.  Its elimination would be like kryptonite to the real estate industry. Real estate groups continue to lobby to keep the deduction in place.

Even if Washington arrives at a mutually beneficial agreement on reducing spending and raising revenue by the end of 2012, the real estate market won't be off the hot seat until specific details are released.

The moral of the story is every news report will put a different spin on the fiscal cliff and its impact on the real estate market.  Unless you own a crystal ball, the only thing to do is to wait and see what 2013 brings.

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