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New outlook on real estate

by BRIANNA SICILIANO Photo/Video Editor

As a child or teenager, we all wonder about our future. What will our job be? Who will we marry? How many children will we have? What sometimes slips our minds, though, is a very important question: Where will we live?

At a time in everyone’s life, becoming a homeowner is no longer a dream, but reality. The process of home-buying is frightening to think about; however, the stress and money is well worth it. Real estate agents provide support, as well as confidence, throughout the entire estate’s selling and buying process.

Although real estate seems like an easy hat to wear, the job is stressful and hectic. In order to make a salary in this industry, agents must help clients purchase, rent, or sell homes. Seems easy, right? Wrong!

To become a real estate agent, a person must attend a 40-hour class and pass both a state and local test. In class, agents learn how to deal with different scenarios. No two sales are the same; therefore, agents must be experts with every situation possible.

Many people think that real estate agents work part-time, and some do, but most work full-time.

“I enjoy working part-time real estate because I can adjust my hours around my family’s needs,” said Valarie Columbia, Weichert realtor.

In order to be successful, an agent must work much more than full-time. Some agents often work 70 to 80 hours a week.

“I started as a part-time agent and easily moved over to a full-time realtor. I realized that the only way I can make the money that I would like to earn, I need to put in the hours of service needed to successfully close my client’s transactions,” said Emily Mark, Weichert realtor.

Real estate agents do not only buy and sell homes, but also deal with rentals.

“Many people rent homes because they do not know that they can afford to buy. One of the reasons my business partner is so successful is because she helps her clients purchase their own homes,” said Columbia.

Some people do not believe that they have enough money or enough credit to purchase their own home. In those situations, people turn to rentals in hopes of finding a cheaper alternative to their living situation.

“I use state program money to provide my clients with their down payment on their homes. For as little as $1000, a tenant can become a buyer,” said an anonymous agent from Weichert in Old Bridge.

The market for real estate is not as high as it once was. Buyers are afraid to purchase homes because they believe that the prices of homes will go down in the near future.

On the other hand, sellers are afraid to sell their homes because they believe the prices are going to go up. What they do not realize is that now is a great time to sell and purchase.

Real estate has a 17-year trend. Right now, it is the perfect storm to buy houses. Interest rates, along with prices, are at their lows. The only way a person knows that they are at the bottom of the market is if they are already on their way back up.

A short sale is a sale in which homeowners who currently owe money to their mortgage beg the bank for forgiveness. In order to qualify for a short sale, the homeowner needs to be dealing with a hardship in their life. Examples of legitimate hardships are divorce, loss of job, or illness of a monetary-contributing family member.

Right now, President Obama has the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) and the Home Foreclosure Alternative Program (HAFA).

HAMP is designed for people who are applying to have their mortgage payments readjusted to a more affordable price. While applying for the program, their current payments will be stalled. However, these homeowners will still eventually owe the money that was waived.

HAFA is a program for people who are ill, no longer working, or have unfortunately lost a spouse. These people can no longer afford to pay their mortgage payments, regardless of whether their loan was modified or not.

If a person qualifies for HAFA, there is complete debt forgiveness up to December 31, 2013. After that, it is on a case-by-case study.

Foreclosure is the process of taking possession of a mortgaged property as a result of the mortgagor’s failure to keep up with mortgage payments.

Recently, there was a moratorium on foreclosures; the banks were not able to foreclose on New Jersey properties for a year while the guidelines on foreclosures were readjusted.

Many people today are living in houses where they have not paid their mortgage for quite some time. The banks are not foreclosing on these homes all at once because, if they did, there would be a second Great Depression. Housing prices would crumble.

When the moratorium was lifted, the banks were able to foreclose again, only on little percentages each month to bring the foreclosed homes into the market.

While many buyers think foreclosures are a great buy, the foreclosed homes are often in great need of repair. As people lose their self-esteem and pride in their houses, they no longer intend to take care of their home in the same way they would if their mortgage was paid.

A good realtor must be available when the buyer or seller is requesting their availability. Often, agents work long hours and weekends. In fact, weekends are usually their biggest work days.

Agents do not just help sell and buy houses. In order to find business, agents work open houses and floor hours. When answering the phone to help customers in their home-buying journey, agents have the perfect chance to convince clients to use their business.

Successful real estate agents are great negotiators and sales people. They do not ‘show’ the houses to their clients, they sell them. Agents will point out the inner beauty that the house contains, whether it is the beautiful maple cabinets and matching wood floor, or the grand master suite.

All of the hard work that real estate agents put into their job does pay off when their clients successfully move into their dream homes.

So, what do you say? Do you think real estate is the career path for you?

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