We had a stellar and wonderful 2015, and then a really amazing 2016 where we handed over $31,000 back to our hero clients, but then 2017 left us a bit confused as to how it would all play out. Naomi had moved away from the Northern Virginia area which looked to leave a big hole in our efforts in the area, but Stephanie Mack stepped IN, ready to rock and roll!Read More
Contemplating a move to Loudoun? Loudoun County is far more than just a pretty suburb of Washington, DC. It’s family-friendly, safe and offers “country living” right outside the nation’s capital. Loudoun has a small town feel with its local small businesses, farmers markets, close-knit neighborhoods, and friendly residents. However, when you are ready for a night out in the big city, DC is just a quick trip away. Many residents love this small town/big city balance because it makes living life in Loudoun anything but boring!Read More
Whether you are listing your home during the Spring Market, the height of summer or need to put your home on the market over the winter, there are certain ways to obtain more offers on your home and in turn, allowing you to reach your end goals and desires.Read More
You pull into the driveway of a home you have been eyeing online for days and you're ready to tour a home, finally! The exterior looks just as it did on the internet - nice yard and you love the landscaping. So far, so good! Your Realtor opens the front door for you and smiles encouragingly. You step inside and take your first look around. Now what?Read More
If you are one of the millions of Millennials who has seen their peers begin to buy homes recently and are wondering what it would take for you to do the same... you’ve come to the right place! Download our free home buyer guide, in either English or Spanish and learn all of what you need to know!Read More
Wondering how to find a real estate agent? The process can feel a bit daunting, we know! There are literally hundreds and hundreds of Realtors, how do you wade through the ocean of agents to choose the right real estate agent? Whether you are buying a home, selling or renting, here are 8 simple and practical tips to help you with your decision. (Yes, you should utilize a Realtor when renting, as well! Read our post on that topic here: Do you need a Realtor to Rent)Read More
Normally we have pretty graphics and logos to accompany our posts, but for this information, we don't want to delay it any longer! These recommendations are ALL family owned and LOCALLY owned businesses!
Jackie Vera / 703-496-8364
Fred Farris, Jr / 703-999-8599
Joe Juarez / 703-357-8981
LV Electric / Vinny @ 703-344-1890
Pietro @ 703-509-3629
Here are some of the businesses in Lucketts that we JUST adore:
Faith like a Mustard Seed (animals, brunch on weekends, etc.)
Roots 657 (amazing food, live music, etc.)
Loudounberry (pizza on weekend evenings, farm store, plants/flowers, produce, milk, eggs)
Brossmans (produce, local ice cream, jams/sauces and BBQ on weekends)
AND ... last but not least, here's an interview with the Lucketts Elementary Principal, Carolyn Clement.
What other recommendations do YOU have?
Happy National Walking Day here in the United States! Today, we are bringing you the best walking spots in Loudoun County! If we're honest with ourselves as a nation, I think we have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the world in terms of the time we spend walking (or biking), so let's do our part, starting with Loudoun County!
Best Walking Spots in Loudoun County:
The W&OD Trail.
The W & OD Trail is a beautiful 45-mile route along the former route of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad (hence the acronym: W & OD). This is an amazing opportunity to get your move on whether you are walking or biking!
Claude Moore Park.
This park, located in Sterling, Virginia, offers woods & meadows with amenities such as walking trails and picnic pavilions. Located at 21544 Old Vestal's Gap Road, Sterling, VA 20164 Claude Moore Park is dog friendly (please use a leash!) AND has many geocache sites for additional fun.
The beautiful and serene Rust Sanctuary is home to 68 acres of wooded trails through gorgeous untouched meadows and forests. If you have children, consider signing them up for the Fresh Air Kids Nature Program / Nature Nuts Program! Located at 802 Children's Center Road, Leesburg, VA 20175.
The Bears Den.
Here is your opportunity to hike the famous Appalachian Trail! The Bears Den is a combined 66 acres of mountain wilderness. Bring a picnic for the gazebo, stay overnight at the lodge, or hike in time for the sunset at the Bears Den Rock Overlook. Use Bears Den as a starting point to take a hike north or south. Located at 18393 Blueridge Mountain Road, Bluemont, VA 20135.
A visit to the Freedom Center is like a breath of fresh air, literally. Over 100 acres of wooded glory, complete with expansive mountain bike and hiking trails offer opportunities for beautiful nature walks. Located at 13951 Freedom Center Dr, Leesburg, VA 20176.
Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park.
The beautiful and historic Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park will take you back in time as you stroll the over 100 acres of passive parkland with access to the Potomac Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Located at 44105 Heron Way, Lansdowne, VA 20176.
What is YOUR vote for the best walking spots in Loudoun County?
Does your home smell? No, really. Does your home stink?
It's a valid question, especially if you're preparing to put your home on the market this Spring. It's a proven scientific fact that we familiarize ourselves with the odors and scent of our home, so much so that we "stop smelling it" and the topic of whether your home does indeed stink becomes a bit awkward.Read More
Loudoun County is filled with magical little secrets and special places that only locals may know about. Here are a few of what we believe are Loudoun's best kept secrets! Have you been to any of these? What else would you add to this list?Read More
Selling your home as a For Sale By Owner (or FSBO) can be fulfilling and save you money. But there are a few tips and tricks to consider, and we’re here to bring you ALL of the goodies! Read on to learn our tried and true things to consider if you are a for sale by owner.Read More
I have worked personally with relocation companies for the majority of our moves. Some were overseas relocations and some were domestic in the United States. After several less than acceptable experiences, I decided to obtain my real estate license and after learning all of the tricks of the trade, want to share with YOU, the eight top things your relocation company won’t tell you before you set out on one of the biggest journeys of your life.Read More
If you are in the market for being relocated in the future due to a job change, you or your partner/spouse may be assigned a one of many relocation companies to handle your move. It all sounds good from the initial discussion, your company advises they will connect you with your relocation counselor and they will handle all aspects of your upcoming move. Great!
The thing is, those relocation companies may be missing the boat.
I have worked personally with relocation companies for the majority of our moves. Some were overseas relocations and some were domestic in the United States. After several less than acceptable experiences, I decided to obtain my real estate license and after learning all of the tricks of the trade, want to share with YOU, the eight top things your relocation company won't tell you before you set out on one of the biggest journeys of your life.
1. You CAN choose your own real estate agent.
When you make first contact with your relocation company or specifically, the counselor assigned to handle your move, they will most likely automatically assign a real estate agent to you - one based on your current location and one based on your new location - and one that is under contract with them to hand over a portion of their commission8th. Even if you are renting in either location, they will let you know that an agent will be in touch with you to begin discussing your upcoming move.
While this may seem like a benefit (in that you don't have to do that work yourself), it often means you are being handed an agent from their database or network, without any real regard having been paid to the needs of your family, the personality of the agent and whether they are the right fit for the job.
You can choose your own real estate agent and often times, while the company policies may state the agent cannot be a family member, if you offer 2-3 potential agent names to your relocation company, odds are they will allow you to choose your own agent. In the long run, wouldn't you want to know that the agent YOU choose is working for you and your family?
2. You may need (and may possibly be approved for) more than one look-see visit.
If your relocation package includes a look-see trip, you will have some benefits as it relates to transportation and accommodations while you search for your new home. Depending on your family situation, it may take more than one trip and you should not hesitate to discuss any such need with your relocation counselor / HR Department if this situation applies.
3. You will have multiple points of contact within the company, not JUST your assigned counselor.
It may sound fantastic to get the call from your relocation counselor as he or she explains that they will be your main point of contact. Just what you've dreamed about, ONE person to communicate with as you navigate your relocation. The reality - sometimes - is that you will have many more people to talk with. Consider your two real estate agents (one where you are currently and one where you're moving), you'll also have someone to handle the pets in your home, if that applies. If you are moving vehicles, you can add on another person. It's quite possible you will also need to communicate separately with the person in charge of your actual freight shipment and if you can believe it, someone to coordinate your own transportation - whether by car, train or plane. Even though you may feel uncomfortable, it is always a good idea to keep your HR rep in the loop, especially if things start to slip sideways.
4. You will need to ask if your counselor is in the same time zone as you.
This may sound odd to you, but when your relocation counselor is first assigned to you, make sure they are located in the same time zone as you -- more specifically -- in the same time zone as where you are GOING. There is nothing worse than having shipments arrive, or problems arise with your real estate agent, or any host of issues and then you discover your relocation counselor isn't at the office yet, or has already left for the day. This is most common when dealing with international moves, but can also wreak havoc during a domestic move as well. Find out when their normal office hours are and request an after hours number, right off the bat.
5. You will need to be clear about communication preferences.
This also sounds like a no brainer, but if you don't tend to check email often, let your relocation counselor know that you prefer texts. Or, if you don't like texting, let them know that you communicate best via phone and advise which number you can best be reached at. It also is beneficial when you can be crystal clear about your expectations as they relate to return phone calls and emails. If you operate best when you receive a "received and noted" type of response after you reach out to someone, let your relocation counselor be aware of that. It can be frustrating to send an email, with what feels like an urgent issue, only to hear crickets in the days following.
Finally, on this topic, ask if your relocation counselor is going to be on vacation or otherwise out of the office during your relocation process and if so, request ahead of time, the names and phone numbers of their supervisor, as well as of the person who will be handling their case load during their absence.
6. You need to know about buy outs.
Relocation companies that buy houses call this a buy out, which means if your home does not sell in a specified period of time, your company will "buy out" your mortgage. ON the surface of things, this sounds like a policy that alleviates the pressure to sell. I have seen too many people rest on their laurels and not fight for top dollar when selling their home, because of this policy. In reality, the buy out policy is only meant to leave you NOT harmed (meaning, the buy out price is not necessarily representative of what your home will appraise at or otherwise sell for). However, if your home is being placed on the market during a time not conducive to a traditional sale, this policy does have its merits.
7. You need to remember that this relocation IS about the family, not just the employee.
If the non-employee adult is going to be taking the lead on the relocation, make sure that your HR Department AND the relocation counselor are very aware of this. If it applies to you, request that the employee only be contacted in cases where the non-employee is not able to be reached. Relocation companies do not work for you and your family, they work for the employer's company. At the end of the day, you need to take control of the situation and ensure that the relocation happens smoothly, while utilizing the resources that have been provided for you.
The relocation companies who have been around for awhile (I call them the monsters) have many years of experience working for companies who relocate their employees.
If you ask me, the old school relocation companies have forgotten what it means to truly service the global mobile family.
The newer up and coming companies who are just entering the space of relocation haven't been in existence long enough to fully know what it takes to relocate a family and are still very employee-centric.
8. You may not be insured on items that you pack yourself.
If you have a relocation package that includes a moving company packing your household goods, it is possible that your policy / package does NOT allow for insurance coverage on any items that you pack yourself. What this means practically is this: most often the listing agent hired to sell your house will have a professional stager come through your home to give advice and tips on how to purge, rearrange and otherwise set up your house to look its best during showings. She may even say something like "You're going to have to pack anyway, you might as well get a head start" or something along those lines.
The reality inside of a relocation is that often you AREN'T the one that is going to pack, and anything you place in tubs or boxes will have a "PBO" sticker placed across the top by the packing crew, which means if any contents are damaged in transit, those items will not fall under the reimbursable claim policy.
Relocating can be extremely stressful, but it doesn't have to be. If you are in need of some guidance in this realm, fill out the contact form below and let us assist YOU in making your next relocation the best yet! We have amazing resources to share with you, including a helpful checklist to use during your first contact with your HR Department and/or relocation counselor, step-by-step tips and hacks to avoid the "PBO" sticker situation mentioned above, advice on how to get the most out of your look-see visit, and more.
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Washington and Old Dominion Trail (W & OD)
One of the most amazing "parks" in Northern Virginia, the Washington and Old Dominion Trail - often called "the skinniest park" is a commonly known as the W & OD Trail, a paved trail between Shirlington and Purcellville, Virginia. Whether you are a runner, a bicyclist or a walker ... the 45-mile route along the former route of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad (W & OD) is an amazing opportunity to get your move on.
W&OD Trail hours are from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., from Shirlington in Arlington County. The W&OD Trail offers 45 miles of paved trail with multiple access points with parking.
We are somewhat partial to the Paeonian Springs area of the W & OD Trail (where the photo above was taken). Plan your bike or walk on the W & OD Trail to correspond with a stop to the nearby Vino 9 Market in Paeonian Springs. Looking to purchase a home in Paeonian Springs? We've got the skinny on some amazing homes on the market! Give us a call at 571-482-7356!
It can be a lot of fun to attend open house events and begin getting a feel for what you want in your next home! There are certain things you should always remember to do in order to maximize your time during an open house. First, always ask your Realtor for an open house checklist to help you stay focused! If you would like a copy of the one I send my clients, email me at Naomi@8thandHome.com and I'll send it right over!
The eight things I suggest you carefully look at during an open house are:
Take notice of whether the neighbors are out, scope out the yards near the home you're touring. Are there dogs? A lot of toys left out? Maybe you notice a lot of grills and outdoor furniture. Even if you don't have children, drive to the neighborhood school after you leave an open house to get a feel for distance and walkability.
Take note of the gutters (if it's raining, check the drain rate) and siding. Is the paint in good shape and how about the siding? Shut the front door when you enter (does it shut solidly and with no daylight showing through?)
Open the drawers and closets to check for depth, width, issues with handles, etc. and look UP while you preview the home, scoping out any water stains on the ceilings.
What is the natural light like throughout the home?
Depending on the age of the home, ask the open house agent when the electric panels were updated.
Check out the parking opportunities. Is there assigned parking, or ample street parking?
Look past the staging and current decor of the home. Imagine your things in each room.
Flush a toilet and turn on a faucet to gauge the water pressure situation.
This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it will give you a place to start, and a way to stay focused during open house events. If you have any questions or need to find a trusted real estate professional, no matter where you live, feel free to reach out using the contact form below!
Watch my LIVE video on this same topic if you're on Facebook and feel free to share the post with anyone who might find it useful!
Want to reach out? Have a question? Need a Realtor referral?
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What a year 2016 was! Here is our 2016 Year In Review:
Real Estate Recaps:
After a ridiculously wonderful 2015, we weren't *quite* sure if we could continue our forward traction into 2016. We closed out the year with 25 transactions closed (2015: 18), over $31,000 handed back to our clients who are heroes (teachers, police, fire, first responders and military) [2015: $16,000] and countless hours logged.
We assisted 7 sellers, our total number of buyers were 13 and we helped 5 rental families find new communities as well [2015: 4 sellers, 6 buyers, 8 rentals]. Production numbers don't matter much to us (community and clients come first!) but in an effort to publicly track our growth, we claimed $8.4 million in sales for the 2016 year in review [2015: $2.5 million]!
40% of our business came from direct referrals, 40% from Facebook (closed group networks) and 20% from traditional real estate marketing [2015: 78% from direct referrals].
While 2015 showed its hand with ups and downs as it related to finding our stride, 2016 has been a year of massive growth, and figuring out how to balance and "do it all." My family went through some major decisions as it relates to our future. As a result, we are now expanding the 8th & Home team to serve clients in both Ohio AND Virginia.
2016 also provided massive opportunities as I grow my brand to continue impacting the global sector. I was asked to speak as the opening keynote for the 2017 Families in Global Transition conference in The Hague, Netherlands. I am honored and really looking forward to having that time to spread my passion about creating community, even "on the go."
Give Back and Media Recaps:
What an honor to continue partnering in 2016 with the Loudoun First Responders Foundation (serving on the Board of Directors). We also volunteer our time and resources with Boulder Crest Retreat, Ripe for Harvest in Kenya and Ripple Effect Images - a global organization (serving on the Board of Advisors).
We saw the I Am A Triangle community (international relocation community) grow to over 10,000 members in our private Facebook group -- yes, TEN THOUSAND!! We were also featured again in The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and in the Loudoun Times-Mirror. We were asked to be a guest on many podcasts/interviews and our media presence continues to increase. Using our experience to help guide others is what we're in this business to accomplish! Click to our Featured Page to learn more about those media spots.
At the end of the day, we exist to serve you, your friends and family, and your referrals. We strive to better ourselves through consistent training and growth. Thank you for trusting us in 2016 with your referrals, with your own personal real estate journeys, and allowing us to help you find home!
Here's to an amazing 2017!
It's time to spread goodwill, good tidings and good cheer, since it's the holidays, after all!
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people 65 years of age and older who did NOT assist friends, neighbors or relatives had a 30% higher chance of dying after a stressful event (like a job loss) than those who were generous! Another study says that volunteering can lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Sound crazy? I think it's sure worth a shot! To health!
As we head into 2017, perhaps you've placed on your resolution list that you want to get more involved in your community.
Community isn't literally about the neighborhood that you live in. It isn't the borders defined by your school board, or the zip code to which your mail person delivers. It's about the choices we make to step outside of our comfort zone to do a *thing* that impacts another being - whether human, four legged, or otherwise.
Community is that thing that allows us to connect to others, it's that thing that reminds us that we are all human and have an innate need to give to others. Even when it feels that our society is full of people with fingers in their ears and singing "lalalala" while they go about their day, in an insular way, community still matters and is very much at the heart of what we ALL want in our lives.
So ... how to go about finding that community? There is NO better way than to volunteer your time. I promise you! It's easier than you might think. But where TO volunteer in Loudoun County? One of the first stops (and best stops) is to visit Loudoun Cares, an organization matching volunteers to the places in need of donated time and efforts.
We'll be drawing out some stories in 2017 about specific partner organizations, but for now, here are several places that answer the question: where to volunteer in Loudoun County in 2017.
*Please note that at the time of publishing, the information provide is accurate. Always call ahead and be sure to understand the volunteer guidelines before showing up.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES FOR FAMILIES/CHILDREN
[Volunteers as young as 4 are welcome when accompanied by a parent!]
FOUR LEGGEDS & THOSE WHO TAKE FLIGHT
Homeless Animals Rescue Team
Little Horse Miniature Horse Therapy Team
Loudoun Therapeutic Riding
Wildlife Rescue League
TOUCHING THE HUMAN SPIRIT
Blue Ridge Hospice
(Loudoun Abused Womens Shelter)
Capital Caring Hospice
(quilters, lawyers, artist, massage therapists, photographers and more are needed)
Home Delivered Meals
FOR THE EARTH / OUR COMMUNITY
Balls Bluff Battlefield
Loudoun County Department of Parks and Recreation
high school students for community centers
WORKING WITH THE LITTLES
American Association for the Advancement of Science
GIVE (Growth and Inspiration through Volunteering and Education
(high school students needed for K-5 students)
Loudoun Families for Children
What other locations and organizations do you enjoy volunteering your time? If showing up to donate an hour or two of your time feels like too much to add to your plate, consider simply spreading kindness and good will! Smile at your barista and make eye contact with the person bagging your groceries. Say "no, after you!" and let someone jump the line, or hold a door open.
If you have youngsters in your life and need to inject them with a spirit of kindness / volunteerism, consider gifting them with the game Play it Forward. It will bring a smile to your face, guaranteed!
We get it! We really do! There are literally thousands of licensed real estate agents in Loudoun County, Virginia, so how on earth can YOU decide who truly are the best Realtors in Loudoun for you and your individual situation??
Listed alphabetically by team name / brokerage, then by first names, here is our take on the BEST Realtors in Loudoun County, Virginia! Click their photo to visit each Realtor's website! *
------> Please note, there are obviously more Realtors in Loudoun County that are amazing, this short list simply curates those we have either worked with during this past year, individuals whose online presence we admire, or Realtors whose values and ethics match those of our team!
Our favorite clients? Every single one of them! We love the challenge of multi-generational families ... enjoy educating first time homebuyers, and appreciate those ready to make the move from "city living" to being country mice!
Western Loudoun is our sweet spot and boy do we know it inside and out, as well as all that comes with that -- often times, no HOA, space to spread out and room to run! What better location to encompass farm stores, wineries, small businesses owned by locals, country schools and true community!
We also LOVE our heroes! We give back and say thank you with our commission by crediting teachers, military, fire, police, first responders and health care professionals with 25% of our commission -- which comes in handy on closing day!
I was born and raised in Sterling, VA. I’m so blessed with Loudoun County roots! The County thrives because of its diversity, award winning schools, incredible park systems, steady economic growth, and more! I’m starting my 18th year in Real Estate. It is an exciting career path filled with passion and purpose! I have the great pleasure of serving the needs of first time homebuyers, move up homebuyers, down sizers, and relocation clients. I enjoy navigating the process with all!
Kelly Stock Bacon, ERA Teachers | Facebook
I have resided in Loudoun County for over 30 years. Our family loves our small town community, neighborhoods, schools and local businesses. I enjoy working with all clients, but have a special place for the first time homebuyer. Providing them with the education needed, allows them to buy with confidence. This brings such a sense of gratitude and enthusiasm!
I love real estate because it allows me to provide expertise while easing my clients' stress during what is often the most important investment of a lifetime. I love the stability and wealth building home ownership creates!
Kieno Simeon, Keller Williams
With 22 years in the business, what I love about working in real estate is the realization that I have the honor to have a positive impact on the lives of others. First time homebuyers are my absolute favorite as I love to have the opportunity to teach and guide them in buying their future wealth with real estate. I consider myself a relational Realtor, nurturing the relationship through the years to meet my clients' ongoing needs.
I've lived in Loudoun County for almost 17 years and love the diversity of people, landscapes, and towns. Working in Real Estate I've met people from all walks of life and people who have lived or are from all over the world. Can't imagine a better job.
Martha Mason, Long & Foster | Facebook
Part of what makes the Platinum Group Real Estate team so unique is that our team is comprised of all moms! We understand first hand what it means to work hard to fulfill the needs of your family, and we do that not only for our families, but for yours too! Longtime lovers of Loudoun County, not only is one of the team owners is a lifelong resident, but all of our team averages more than 10 years as a Loudoun resident. We live here too, and we love it!
Platinum Group, Pearson Smith | Facebook
I absolutely love working with first time home buyers. There is something so special about seeing their dreams come true! And Loudoun County, it's our very own wine country! What's not to love about living and selling here?
As a realtor in Northern Virginia, I love the fact that I can work with many diverse individuals. When interacting with clients I get to travel from the city to the suburbs to rural farms and everywhere in between. All of this allows me to provide a vast amount of options for all my clients.
Being a Realtor in Loudoun County exposes you to wide diversity of cultural experiences. My military background, where travel was a key aspect of that career, allows me to interact with confidence and understanding of many of the sensitivities we need to respect when working with clients from different parts of the world.
I have had the great pleasure of working all over Northern VA but I am proud to be a homeowner in Loudoun County. I was personally drawn to the neighborhoods with a variety of home styles, the amazing schools for my kids, and the ability to be close to numerous amenities or head west and enjoy the open spaces and great wineries!
Real estate is exciting because it is constantly changing, no two days are alike! Most people do not trust the sale or purchase of their largest asset to just anyone. To be a trusted advisor, constant training, experience, great communication skills, problem solving skills, creativity and hard work are necessary. I have been a Northern VA resident for 30+ years, the last 19+ years in Loudoun and am in my 15th year of real estate. Whether first-time buyers, sellers, moving up, changing family status, relocating, downsizing or thriving in place, I enjoy them all!
Tanya Gonda, Weichert | Facebook
You might wonder why we are showcasing other Realtors in the same space where we ourselves work? We believe there is enough business for everyone. We do not believe in the spirit of scarcity or competition, and also firmly believe that each client deserves the very best fit for their real estate journey. We always suggest that you interview several Realtors before settling on the one you'll ultimately go with. You can learn more about our suggested steps by reading How to Find a Great Real Estate Agent or by following these 8 Steps for Choosing a Great Realtor.
If you'd like to speak with us about your real estate needs, feel free to get in touch using the contact form below or give us a call at 571-482-7356!
* Realtors are licensed by State, not segmented by county, however, the Realtors on this round up practice primarily in Loudoun County.
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I receive questions like this frequently, both from friends, and clients as well:
"Hi Naomi, I am looking into getting my Realtor's license and wanted to ask you some questions. Other than showing people houses they are interested in, I know nothing about it! I would love your thoughts. I'd also like to find out the pros/cons of the job? Can it be done part time? How much does it cost to get started?"
My answer to these questions can vary depending on the specific situation, but generally here is how I respond!
How much does it cost to become a Realtor?
This answer depends greatly on your location and where you are going to be licensed. In Northern Virginia, it costs about $3,000 to get up and running. This total includes classes, testing, licensure requirements and mandatory memberships for your first year. An average total for annual requirements is approximately $1,000 per year to keep those memberships running and active after your initial startup. You will be required to take continuing education and that is an additional fee as well.
This total does NOT include business cards, a website, and any other branding / advertisement type expenses that you'll use to promote your new business. It also does NOT include any costs associated with forming a business in the State of Virginia, if you decide to create an LLC or company.
How long does it take to obtain a Realtor's license?
Currently in Virginia, you are required to complete 60 hours of coursework that can either be done online or in person. Many brokerages (the offices where each realtor calls home) have instructors at each of them that are certified to teach your licensure classes. Once you have completed your 60 hours of coursework, you will be required to pass the PRE-exam test. This can be taken at many locations in Virginia.
Finally, once those steps have been completed, you will need to sit for the PSI Test, which is comprised of two exams, one state and one national test. The testing sites require an appointment made in advance and you will need to bring proof of identity, and can take nothing in with you to the testing site. Upon completion of the test, you will be given either a pass or a fail.
How do you choose which brokerage / company to choose?
There are definitely better brokerages than others when it comes to education for newly licensed Realtors, but in my opinion, it's the hands on work from a broker that helps with the learning curve, not sitting in MORE classes. Having said that, every individual is different, and every transaction is completely different so we are always learning. Never assume that real estate is a situation where you need to only "learn the ropes" once.
There are also "splits" -- what its called when the brokerage takes a % of your commission. If you sell a $500,000 home and your broker split is 70/30, your before taxes take home pay would be (assuming the commission is a standard 3%) $10,500.
NOTE: My tax advisor recommends you withhold 25-30% of each commission check for taxes, as you are self-employed as a Realtor.
There are also different office structures -- some have "desk duty" where you have a responsibility to man the main desk, some have monthly fees, some charge a "desk fee" and others charge for printing, etc.
There are also differences when some brokerages allow teams to exist, or separate out whether their agents are showing agents only, or perhaps listing assistants, etc.
If you'd like to speak with me about different brokerages in the Northern Virginia area, please shoot me a text at 571-482-7356.
How many hours per week will I spend being a Realtor?
I put in about 12-14 hours a day working in and on my business. Many of those hours are community based (PTA, the boards I sit on, etc) but I'm up at 5am to get client work done before the kids school prep time ... then I work solid until 3pm and again after dinner - late into the night.
Real Estate is known to be a heavy weekend/evenings gig because that's when most of your clients are available. you will need to find a balance for providing your clients with great customer service, while balancing your personal needs / schedule, as well as that of your friends and family.
Having said that -- there ARE opportunities to be in real estate and work part time where you are on a team doing either admin work or helping with buyers during the days, etc. Depending on the way an arrangement is situated, that can potentially offer more steady income as it would likely be salaried.
How much money will I make?
Most transactions are 45-60 days long with about 2-3 weeks (minimum) for the showings before the transaction timeline begins (some clients look for 6-9 months) so if you break down your "hourly rate", it can vary widely from transaction to transaction.
Your commission will depend on the market that you will be working in. In most markets, between 2-3% of the sales price is considered a standard commission for the agents involved. Keep in mind that you will need to deduct your brokerage split, and other miscellaneous fees from that commission. We recently wrote this article on how a buyer's agent "gets paid."
A commission is only payable when the transaction goes to closing. Often times, you will work for quite some time with clients and in the end, the transaction does not go to closing (whether because one party changed their mind, financing was not obtained, or for many other reasons). Be aware ahead of time that the risk involved comes into play when you have dedicated many hours, miles on your vehicle. When you work with sellers, often times you have invested money into that property, whether that is the cost of the sign installation, the professional photographs, marketing materials, items for open house events, etc.. You will not be compensated for your work when the closing does not come to fruition, so make your decisions in a smart way when deciding how much cushion to keep for yourself.
Remember to always remember that a Realtor's income is not consistent and not promised!
What do you love most about being a Realtor?
Oh, there are SO many things! I love the opportunity to step alongside an individual or family to assist in making the transaction enjoyable, stress free and exciting for a family. I love the opportunity to inject more kindness and ethics into the industry with the agents and other industry professionals I work with. I love the opportunity to be a part of creating a community during each transaction! I also love the challenge of getting from Point A to Point B in a satisfactory manner, with all of the moving parts coming together like a well-oiled machine.
What do you not like about being a Realtor?
The things I don't love so much include the work it takes to consistently stay 100% on top of my customer service game with existing clients at the SAME time I am providing that same level of service to brand new clients. I also don't like that working with clients is seasonal (generally, you are only working with a client for 3-4 months). Just when you've gotten to know them so well and really enjoy spending time with them and assisting with their real estate dreams, the transaction ends!
What are some of the things you have to do as a Realtor?
The job of a Realtor is much different than most people think. Because of the popularity of many shows on HGTV, there is misunderstanding that Realtors simply open doors, show people homes and then deliver the good news that the client's offer has been accepted.
Marketing / Leads: Your business (clients) have to come from somewhere, so you will need to spend a bulk of your time marketing yourself, meeting new people and establishing relationships with future clients. Not everyone you meet will need the services of a real estate agent, so it's important to not treat your networking and relationship building opportunities as salesy.
Branding: If you truly want to excel at your job of being a Realtor, you will need to brand yourself! Brand doesn't simply mean creating a logo, however. It's deeper than that and will take time and effort to find your brand. For more on that topic, check out Seth Price's Personal Branding content (don't miss this article and this one too!) ... as well as Kara Macdonald's content (Who Is Your Customer? Increase Visibility for Your Brand are a few of my favorites), for what they have to say on the matter.
Continuing Education: Your state association will mandate your continuing education requirements, and it is important that you stay on top of your game for new codes and legislation affecting the real estate market, as well as stay informed and up to date on the neighborhoods and locations you sell.
Beginning Stages of Work with a Client: Whether you represent buyers or sellers, there is work to be done before an offer is accepted by the other party. When working with buyers, plan on spending some time with them to determine what is important to them when finding their new home. Each time you go out to show properties, you should plan on at least 45 minutes for each home, including drive time to the next showing. It takes a few hours to set up appointments and logically plan out your showings so they make geographical sense, and you will also need to coordinate showings with the sellers' schedule and availability.
When working with sellers, quite a bit of work goes into the preparation of a home before it can be placed on the market. You can read more about the timeline for getting a home ready for the market by reading our Timeline for Selling a Home article. Once your clients are ready to either make an offer or accept an offer, you can plan on 2-3 hours of paperwork while writing the contract and preparing all disclosures and addenda
Transaction Duties: Once a client has "ratified" (both parties accept the terms of the contract), the work of managing the transaction begins. Often times, a transaction can have up to 20 individuals to keep on the same page, working towards the same outcome (two Realtors, 2-4 clients (buyers and purchasers), a lender/underwriter and their team, a home inspector, appraiser, the title company, and in rural settings, well inspector, septic company, water test representatives, etc.
It will be imperative that you monitor the very important deadlines and paperwork that your clients are contractually obligated to complete in a timely manner. The manner in which you process the transaction can mean a big difference in the outcome of the transaction. We use a combination of platforms to assist with our organization: Pipedrive, and this "old school" client file management system as well!
Post-Transaction Care: Once the transaction has closed, you might think your work is done, but it is important that you continue to keep your relationship with your client vibrant and consistent. It is likely they will (assuming you've done a fantastic job!) either refer you to a friend or family member, or will request to use your services again in the future. It's going to now be your job to stay in touch and continue to be a Realtor that brings value to their lives!
Can I work in the industry of Real Estate but NOT have a license?
In most locations, you would need to be licensed to show homes -- as you would have to have access to various tools/apps (such as Sentrilock in Virginia) and belong to a local association (i.e. DAAR, NVAR, etc). Depending on the brokerage you align yourself with, it is possible they could have tasks and positions available for non-licensed individuals.
The real estate industry is a satisfying one to be a part of, but it shouldn't be entered into lightly. It may seem - on the surface - that it's an easy gig, with access to fast cash, easy closings and little to no work, but the reality is much different. I am happy to answer additional questions you might have, text me at 571-482-7356 or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk more about your specific questions, as I'm happy to provide support!