Four Free Home Buying Resources

helpful tips

After years of saving, planning and researching, you’re finally ready to take the next step and purchase a home.

From years of experience, we at Waddell Realty know the importance of research and arming yourself with as much information as possible about the purchasing process.

You’ve heard the saying that knowledge is power. And while that’s still the case, we’ll add to this saying as it pertains to real estate and say that accurate knowledge is power.

We’ve compiled four of the best free resources that will make your home buying experience simpler, more efficient, and help guide you along the journey of finding a home you will love living in.

  1. REALTOR.COM VS. REDFIN VS. ZILLOW

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Realtor.com, Redfin, and Zillow are websites that allow you to search available home listings for free. Each site boasts hundreds of thousands of for sale homes, with the ability to narrow down your search based on your specific needs like zip code, price, and square feet.

Whether you use Realtor.com, Redfin, and Zillow is your personal preference. Its important to identify a general area of where you want to look for a home, and determine the average cost of those homes.

The three resources also come in the form of smartphone apps, making them easy to access when you’re on the go. Realtor.com has the most accurate information, as their data directly feeds from REALTORS. It’s our source choice.

  1. AroundMe

A home buying resource is only as good as your ability to access it wherever you are. This makes smartphone apps an essential part of your search.

Have you ever fallen in love with a home, and wondered what kind of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, or grocery stores are around the area?

AroundMe, available for both iOS and Android, is an app that lists businesses and other attractions either near your current location, or wherever you choose. This can come in handy to determine if a home fits your lifestyle.

  1. ONLINE MORTGAGE CALCULATOR

Online mortgage calculators are a quick and easy way to see if your dream home fits within your budget.

There’s a bevy of online mortgage calculators that’ll do the trick – from Bankrate to Guaranty Mortgage to Mortgage Calculator. Punch in information like home value, the loan amount and terms, and interest rate to get a ballpark determination on your mortgage.

  1. REALTYTIMES.COM

Realtytimes.com is a fantastic resource for buyers and sellers to keep up with the real estate times. From news bites to advice from professional real estate agents, the site is a one-stop shop for your housing news.

Their market outlooks come in handy in determining when to purchase to a home. This website can literally save you money.

Do you use or have questions about an app or website not listed here? If so, I love to hear from you.

Which Real Estate Network Closed $321 Billion in Sales in 2014?

Coldwell Banker finished 3rd, RE/MAX finished 2nd, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World finished 1st!! Not familiar with this network? Waddell Realty is a proud member, as are the other #1 independent firms around the globe.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (Leading RE) believes in the power of independence. As the world’s largest network of market-leading real estate brands, we require standards of excellence that extend beyond sales marks. Our member companies span 50 countries and are vetted for performance, and a continued commitment to quality customer experience.  Our firms are recognized for their expertise, and superior knowledge of both local and global markets.

Why have agents with Independent/Boutique Firms out sold agents with franchise brands? Their Broker/Owners are committed to excellence and can quickly adapt to changing markets. Since the Housing Crash, we’ve focused on helping our agents build businesses that is controlled by them, not current economic conditions. Waddell Realty is a Local and Global Real Estate Firm.

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How To Get a Real Estate License in GA

The first step in becoming a real estate agent in Georgia is obtaining a sales person license. Each state has their own specific requirements, but some offer reciprocal licenses, depending on which state you obtained your primary license. So if you obtain a sales person license GA, you could qualify for an AL license by completing a 6 hour course and passing the State Portion of the AL real estate exam. Georgia’s licensing requirements are determined by the Georgia Real Estate Commission & Appraisers Board.

Getting a real estate license in Georgia requires two steps. Successfully completing 75 hour course and scoring 70 or above on the state exam. It looks simple on paper, but it is actually an intense process filled with hours of training, tests, and fees. So first and foremost, you must truly want to become a real estate agent. And second, you must be over 18. If you meet these two requirements, then continue on!

Next, you must attend a real estate class. There are two types of educations approved by Georgia. You can either receive 75 hours of real estate training (check this list for officially licensed and state approved schools, and most of the courses are online), or you can take six hours of classes at an accredited university course. The most important thing here is to find a reputable school. These courses are meant to build a foundation of real estate knowledge, but do not teach you how to build a successful business. Understanding this puts you one step closer to working for a company like Waddell Realty.

After you complete the requisite hours of training, it’s time to take the sales person exam. The exam is offered several days a week, and all you have to do is find a testing location nearest you. Georgia has created a study guide to help you prepare. It’s important to note here that all applicants are required to have a Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) report. The Georgia exam costs $91.

Congratulations! You studied, you passed your test – now it’s onto buying and selling homes in Columbus, right? Well, not quite. If you pass your test, you can do two things – keep your license inactive, or activate it through a broker. If you choose to activate your license within three months of the exam, you must pay another $170 (the fee doubles if you apply more than three months after).

So now, you’re all done and ready to go…right? Umm, you’re getting closer. Your real estate license is good for four years in Georgia, so yes, you are now free to begin your rockstar real estate career at Waddell Realty. But you’re still not done training. You are required to take a 25 hour post license course during your first year of being a licensed real estate agent. In addition, you are still required to go through 6 hours of training a year each year for the next four years to renew your license. Phew!

 

The key to receiving, and maintaining a real estate license in Georgia is training. And just because you got your license doesn’t mean you’re free of these responsibilities. Keep that in the back of your mind, and you’re on your way to a successful career in real estate, four years at a time.

4 Tips for New Real Estate Agents

The journey to becoming a rockstar real estate agent begins with a strong foundation. In the beginning you may lack clients, a referral network, and experience. Even rockstar agents are constantly building their client base, networks and learning from each experience. A strong foundation will help grow your business and keep it rocking. So how do you build a foundation and maintain a foothold in the real estate industry?

Before we get to actual tips, it’s important to set realistic goals at this phase in your real estate career. Of course, your aim is to become a successful REALTOR, one with plenty of contacts, a pipeline full of leads, and known for keeping your pulse on the market. But first things first – you must build a strong foundation early in your real estate career. This goal should be accomplished in the first 6 months. Here are four tips to get you on your way to real estate success:

  1. Find a Mentor – Research the top real estate companies in the area, like Waddell Realty for West Georgia and East Alabama. In the same vein as building a network, and similar to real estate meetings, meet agents who are working for the top REALTORS in your area and pick their brain for advice. They were once new too, and they can give you tips in all areas, from career to local markets. Understand what you need to do to become a successful real estate agent, and build your network at the same time. Like the homes you’ll help clients buy and sell, your successful real estate career starts with a solid foundation. Of course, you’ll want to meet new clients and get in on markets. But take the beginning part of your career to build and refine these important skills and relationships. Your future real estate rockstar self depends on it.
  1. Research Up and Coming Areas – On the housing side, you must study local prices and especially look for two things: first, find areas where housing prices are improving faster than others – this denotes markets of high demand. Second, look for signs of up and coming areas. Infrastructure is a giveaway, so be on the lookout for areas with new schools, roads, or even shopping centers. Become familiar with these markets before anyone else, and develop an eye for recognizing areas with potential!
  1. Build Your Network – Your network is the most important piece of your foundation. Your network consists of past clients, future clients, friends, and family, among others. You should always be focused on growing your network – this is a career endeavor. But you must start to build it now! A simple way is to find a local real estate club in your area, like the Georgia Real Estate Investors Association, and attend meetings. Meetings like this are great for meeting like-minded people.
  1. Develop Your Online Brand: The moment you decide to start a real estate career, your name can become a brand built to attract clients. There are traditional ways to build your real estate brand, but those require years of work to penetrate the market. One of the most effective ways to build your brand in the digital age is to start a blog and create content, like we do at Waddell Realty. Our blog, featuring tips for realtors and property owners, allows us to reach an entire world with our content with practical advice. The contents on your blog will differ, of course. It might be about the ups and downs of being a new real estate agent, or learning a new housing market. Either way, blogging is your introduction to the world, and the world’s introduction to your brand.

Your online brand should reinforce your physical brand. You will be viewed online by prospective clients and when the meet you for the first time, your physical brand must match the online version.

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