By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Hidden physical defects such as water seepage or missing flashings can quickly become last-minute deal breakers in a real estate transactions. If these defects aren’t noticed until after the home inspection, sellers may have to scramble to hire a contractor or be forced to knock thousands of dollars off their asking price. By developing an eye for what inspectors look for and learning to identify common home problems, real estate practitioners can spot defects before the purchase contract is signed. Inspecting a House by Rex Cauldwell ($24.95, The Taunton Press, 2001) offers a reader-friendly guide to the fundamentals of home inspection. A master plumber, electrician, and building inspector, Cauldwell provides insight into the home-inspection process that can help real estate professionals hone their home maintenance skills and avoid unexpected, last-minute disclosures.
Though intended as a reference for home inspectors, the book is accessible to the layperson. Cauldwell’s explanations of home defects are concise and easily understandable with helpful checklists to point you to common problem areas for each component. Furthermore, the book includes abundant diagrams and color photographs to illustrates faults such as improperly sealed pipes, rotten wood, and roof damage. These are valuable because they show rather than tell how to identify these flaws. To keep readers’ interested in sagging gutters and faulty sump pumps, Cauldwell leavens his text with humorous anecdotes from his home inspection experiences.
The book could also serve as a primer for readers interested in developing a second specialty in home inspection. Rather than simply providing a handy encyclopedia of common problems, Cauldwell walks readers through the procedures he follows when inspecting a house. He addresses areas including roofs, gutters, and grading; foundations, structural supports, and decks; garages, driveways, and walkways; heating and cooling systems; and water-supply and septic tanks. For each section, Cauldwell explains typical problems, their symptoms, and how to identify them. (He does not, however, provide suggestions for correcting problems.) Cauldwell also advises establishing a set pattern, or system of inspection, for evaluating a home. While there’s no correct place to start, he maintains that following the same steps each time will help ensure that nothing is forgotten.
Undisclosed defects can cost you a potential sale and land you in legal trouble; failure to disclose property defects are a major source of lawsuits against practitioners. Whether you are an inspection novice or want to brush up on a particular area, Inspecting a House can build your skills at spotting defects before they cost you a sale.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
The real estate profession exacts a stressful toll on new salespeople, and the field is likely to become even more competitive as the economy winds down. The numbers tell the story. The real estate industry as a whole has an annual turnover rate of 45 percent, according to Christopher Lee, CEO of the Los Angeles-based real estate consulting firm, CEL & Associates. Out of those that remain, scores more are just getting by. Starting a new job is almost never easy, but it can become virtually impossible for new salespeople who fail to plan ahead.
The second edition of Up and Running in 30 Days: A Proven Plan for Financial Success in Real Estate, by Carla Cross , ($27.95, Dearborn Real Estate Education Company, 2001) lays the groundwork for real estate success by providing novice salespeople with the tools to create and follow a basic business plan. The book stresses the importance of crafting a plan that establishes an organized activities schedule and provides a roadmap for future growth. Both salespeople just starting out and those with slightly more experience who want to jumpstart their businesses can benefit from the book’s to-the-point advice and numerous checklists. Additionally, brokers who regularly work with new salespeople can use it to help orient newbies to the real estate business.
According to the book, a well-designed business plan should :
- Create a prioritized activities schedule, with an emphasis on money-generating activities.
- Have established methods for setting goals and tracking results.
- Accentuate relationship, consulting, and questioning skills over hard-sell closing skills.
Without a plan, the book says, salespeople tend to spend their time “getting ready to get ready,” focusing on a task’s preliminary aspects without ever concluding the activity. For instance, some new salespeople spend so much viewing inventory that they have little time left to actually show homes.
The book organizes its lessons into a series of four weekly plans, with goals and activities designed to literally get salespeople up and running in 30 days. Week one concentrates on prospecting and the listing process, week two introduces new sales skills and shows how to assemble listing presentation materials, week three covers purchase and sales agreements and customer objections, and week four stresses refining seller and buyer presentations.
Up and Running in 30 Days stresses the practical over the theoretical. It provides numerous checklists, forms, and worksheets that teach new salespeople how to set benchmarks and turn their attention towards money-generating activities. For example, Chapter 12 includes forms to create an business plan by setting monthly earnings and using activity sheets to plan for ways to meet these goals. The book also contains overviews of key topics that put the activity sheets into context. A summary of industry trends (new to this second edition) addresses technology, systemization, and relationship marketing, among other areas. Other chapters provide brief tips on selling skills, lead generation, and ways to improve productivity and time management.
The book’s bottom-line approach to the material is both a strength and a weakness. It provides a good introduction to real estate planning but doesn’t go far enough in its analysis to introduce readers to the business’s complexities. Still, it’s to-the-point format should help novice salespeople grasp the basics of real estate business planning without a lot of excess flab. The checklists, forms, and worksheets can go a long way toward getting beginning salespeople organized, and in many cases, that’s the first step to success.