6 Tips for First-Time Home-Buyers

When people are faced with the unknown, they will often choose inaction.

Why?

Because inaction is the default–it’s inside your comfort zone to do what you’ve always done.

That’s why so many potential first-time home-buyers often bite on the first house in their price range or simply choose to continue renting. 

Here’s how you can handle the unknown of buying your first home.

1. Decide if buying is right for you

So often, people talk about renting as “throwing money away.”

Is it really?

You need a place to live, don’t you? So you pay money in exchange for a roof over your head.

Just because you’re not building equity with a rental like you would with your own property doesn’t mean the rental is a waste of money.

Think about it this way: it might be cheaper to grow your own food rather than buy groceries every week, but does that mean you’re “throwing money away” at the grocery store?

Does that mean you should buy a farm? 

Consider your long-term goals and ask yourself if owning a home fits with your personal, professional, and financial future.

And try out this excellent interactive “Rent Vs. Buy” calculator from the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/upshot/buy-rent-calculator.html

2. What you’re approved for is not necessarily what you can afford

If you’ve decided that home ownership is right for you, then getting pre-approved for a loan should be one of your first steps you take.

A mortgage loan originator will look at your financial situation and determine your buying power.

You might be pre-approved for, say,  a $350,000 mortgage, but does that mean you need to find a $350,000 home?

Absolutely not.

And not every loan originator will be created equal. They are an integral part of the home-buying process, so you should shop around for the best one the same way you would for your real estate agent.

Your agent and her brokerage may have a relationship with a loan originator, but do your due diligence and see if there are other options in the area.

3. Find a great agent

The agent who comes recommended by your aunt or your best friend may not be the best agent for you.

Your needs in an agent may be different from the people who recommend them. 

And the best agent may not be your friend. It’s a nice thought to help your real estate agent friend by giving him your business, but a lot of friendships have ended when money came into the equation. 

Working without an agent is an even more treacherous road to wander down.

An individual may sell their own home as a for sale by owner listing (FSBO) in an effort to save on the agent commission.

In some rare cases, these FSBO sellers may request that you purchase without an agent, just as a way to keep agents out of the transaction.

Not a good idea.

Find an agent you trust and who can serve as your expert on a potential neighborhood or a certain property type. 

4. Try to be objective

Of course you should have some sort of emotional attachment to the home you eventually purchase. However, there are a handful of factors that can emotionally sway your decisions.

For example, you might be in a pinch for time and need to move in fast on a purchase. Or maybe a certain property just hit the market, or there are other offers on the property.

Utilize your agent in these situations. They will be able to provide you with more objective information, such as recent purchase prices on comparable homes.

5. Consider the true cost of ownership

When considering the monthly costs of home ownership, there’s more to it than just insurance, taxes, and the loan.

Routine (and not so routine) maintenence can add up quicker than you think. And deferring maintenence costs a lot more than routine maintenence.

There’s no landlord or property manager to save you now: it’s all coming out of your wallet.

Set aside money every month for maintenence–not only for routine fixes, but for emergency stuff as well, so these extra costs don’t come at the wrong time.

Also, consider how much will your utilities cost. Find out if there is reliable internet and cell service in the home as well.

6. Don’t bank on funding your retirement

When you buy your home as a place to live, it’s best not to think of it as an investment.
It’s not important what your home is worth at this moment, all that matters is that you’re happy with it in this moment.

When it comes time to sell, all that will matter is how much it will be worth then.

And even if you take a loss on the sale, consider the years of use and happiness you got from the property.

Sign up for classes by visiting us at LarsonEd.com.

Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Rd. #12,

Naples, Florida

34105

239-344-7510

LarsonEd.com

5 Tips for Health Insurance Client Retention–Part 1

Health insurance client retention

When too many of your clients are cancelling their health insurance policies, you start to feel the impact at all levels of your business—lost clients could increase administrative costs and you could also see issues with debt management if you’ve already budgeted certain commissions that are no longer coming in.

And acquiring new clients is not cheap.

Here are 5 tips to make sure you choose clients who will stick around:

1. Pre-Qualify

The road to client retention starts before your relationship with a client even begins. First, you want to discover if you and a particular prospect are a good fit for each other.

In all industries, the best salespeople ask the right questions. 

You may also benefit from a shift in thinking: rather than focusing on acquiring clients, think about it in terms of finding out if a prospect is a good business partner. Ask yourself, “Is she a good fit for the services I offer?”

You must be willing to say no to certain clients if you think you cannot provide them with the services they need. Or you may say no if you foresee this prospective client requires a larger investment of time than you can afford.

The same insurance product won’t fit every potential client. Determine their budget.

If, for example, you run into a prospect who qualifies for high subsidies, it will be important for them to know the value of supplemental products, though they may not have the budget for these voluntary products.

Work together with them to find the best potential options to fill in the gaps created by high-deductible ACA plans, for example.

2. Find Your Niche

You will need to project professionalism and trustability to potential clients. If they have any qualms whatsoever about your ability to serve their health insurance needs, assure them that you specialize in this field—you are the content expert. 

Oftentimes, you can put an apprehensive prospect’s worries to rest by letting them know what others in their situation are purchasing. Decisions of any kind are difficult, let alone when healthcare is involved.

Make the decision easier by providing them with a road map of previous clients’ experiences.

The language you use may sound like this:

“This is our most common package.”

“Many of our clients are happy with this package, and here’s why.”

“This is our most popular package.”

Again, you don’t want to sell them something they can’t afford—sure, you won’t be able to retain them as a client, but more importantly their needs won’t be met.

Click here to read part 2!

naples real estate school

Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Rd. #12,

Naples, Florida 34105

LarsonEd.com

239-344-7510

Should real estate agents buy a drone?

 

Should real estate agents buy a drone?

Drones, also known as quadcopters, are becoming a staple in the real estate industry.

Not too long ago, getting high quality aerial photographs of your properties required helicopters, airplanes, and thousands of dollars in fees. Sure, you’d get a quality final product, but you wound up feeling like you paid to shoot a scene from Terminator.

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Let’s hope you didn’t spend any extra money on this guy (photo courtesy of Wikipedia).

Drones have made aerial photographs and videos accessible to even the smallest of real estate agents.

These remote-controlled flying devices may have a large initial cost and a learning curve, but you can save money over time the more you use it.

In other words, instead of pumping your photography budget into a helicopter or airplane service to get a small number of properties photographed/videoed, you can put that money toward buying a drone that allows you to get a larger number of properties photographed/videoed—even the lower priced listings.

Are real estate drones a short-lived gimmick?

It doesn’t seem so. As of June 2016, approximately 39 percent of drone permits went to real estate professionals: https://www.zillow.com/agent-resources/trends-and-data/tips-and-advice/drones-real-estate-photography/.

Look at it this way—drones are simply the latest technology that people are using to solve a problem: how to get aerial photos of real estate.

Before, the solution to that problem was expensive and complex. It just so happens that this is the newest solution.

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How can drones help with your real estate business?

Drones can help potential buyers get views of the entire property or land for sale.

If the property is near an amenity like a public pool or a golf course, you can use aerial footage to create a visual representation of the proximity to those features.

Or maybe the property is near a school for the kids or close to a gated community entrance—it’s all perfect for showing off on a drone.

As drones become more and more popular, sellers may expect aerial photographs as part of your standard service package.

Now, there may be reasons not to include aerial footage as well, such as undesirable features that would be in the shot, like a close-proximity freeway, for example.

“Do I really have to buy a drone?”

If the idea of purchasing and learning to fly a drone feels overwhelming for you, then you may want to outsource the job and only use the service for larger, more expensive properties. There are several drone photography service providers in southwest Florida that you can hire to provide this service.

Outsourcing aerial footage may be more expensive in the long-run, but as your business grows it may make more sense for you to spend a bit more money in order to save time.

Sidenote: take a look at some of the amazing real estate footage people are grabbing with drones. Video courtesy of Utah Aerial Imaging

(Don’t think that you have to make some fancy video like this to make aerial footage work—start with taking still images and work your way up to videos, even if they’re not as amazing as this one.)

Or perhaps you’re new to real estate and don’t want to put in the initial investment for a quadcopter along with your other start-up costs. That makes sense.

In that case, you may want to wait until you get more clients and start selling more expensive properties before you invest in a drone.

If at that time you feel the need to get more aerial photographs, then go for it. There are lots of tips and tutorials online to help anyone learn to fly.

Either way, aerial footage is cheaper and more accessible than ever for real estate agents, and that’s a good thing for everyone, including your clients.

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Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Rd. #12

Naples, Florida 34105

239-344-7510

LarsonEd.com

Is loyalty dead?

Is loyalty dead?

The Oakla–sorry–the LAS VEGAS Raiders, who have called Oakland home since their last relocation in 1995, are ditching one of the most fervent fan bases in the NFL and moving to the Sin City.

Some are calling the move soulless on the team’s part–a slap in the face of Raider Nation.

That may be true.

However, we at LarsonEd want to assure you, our fans, that we won’t be skipping town on you. We wouldn’t be the company we are if it weren’t for our students, so we want to say thank you for coming to us for your real estate and insurance educational needs.

We promise to continue reciprocating that loyalty right back to you.

Photo courtesy of Raiders Twitter.

Sign up for insurance and real estate classes in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, and online: https://www.larsoned.com/

Larson raiders

Photo courtesy of Raiders Twitter

LarsonEd is Florida Big!

Sure, you won’t see LarsonEd from space.

But the closer you get to Florida, the bigger we are.

LarsonEd Florida big

About Larson Educational Services:

Utilizing 40 years of real estate training and professional education experience, Florida real estate school Larson Educational Services is the premier provider of Florida real estate licensing, exam preparation, post-licensing, CAM licensing, mortgage loan originator licensing, and continuing education in Southwest Florida. Classes are available in Fort Myers, Naples, Sarasota, and online.

Brad Larson

Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Road #12

Naples, Florida 34105

info@LarsonEd.com

239-344-7510

www.LarsonEd.com

Are you creating value online?

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Sometimes, the best move is to stop producing and contemplate.

Real estate is a notoriously fast-paced industry that requires a hustler’s mindset.

Similarly, the internet is a fast-paced medium that creates the illusion that you must constantly produce content.

When you add these two factors together, you get a lot of white noise—people producing online content just for the sake of producing online content.

But how often do we stop to ask ourselves:

“Is my content adding value to anyone’s life?”

I’ll admit it: we’ve been guilty of producing white noise in the past. Look back in our archives and you’ll see “press releases” that were little more than thinly-veiled advertisements.

Or we’d post surface-level advice articles that did little more than repeat what already existed elsewhere online.

At one point or another, we’ve all produced spam-y online writing material.

Sure, there was a time when pumping out a keyword-heavy blog post every day would improve your search ranking.

Nowadays, this technique of jamming keywords into blog posts or YouTube videos in the hopes of boosting your SEO is no longer viable. 

Google won’t reward this kind of writing in the search results and potential readers will quickly move on to something more interesting online.

Cat video larsoned

Do you really think you can compete with 10 hours of cat fails!?

Content is King

Google is constantly trying to improve its search algorithm to provide the best content for its users. You can read more about one of its latest major updates here: Google Webmaster Blog* (see footnote for more info).

Marketing used to be focused on the products we sell. Now, marketing is all about the stories we tell.

An easy way to get started telling stories is to provide your prospects with insight into your business. People love the idea of having a behind-the-scenes glimpse into an industry.

Share part of your sales process or a personal success story from your business. Or write a blog post about the time you failed miserably and what you learned from it.

By telling these stories, you provide value to your sphere of influence.

Thought Leaders

You need to read more.

We all do. Reading is how we make sense of the chaos in the world—reading is how we get new ideas, whether professionally or personally.

Don’t know where to start?

I would begin by finding 5 to 10 SuperStar Agents that I admire and reading the content they’re producing online if I don’t already: their personal blog, their ActiveRain account, etc.

Don’t stop there—get in contact with them.

Find out what books they’re reading. 

Ask them what books have had the greatest influence on them. The answers to these questions will provide you with a ready-to-go reading list.

Because successful people, in all industries, are molded by the books they read.

Hiding in Infinity

It’s easy to think about dominating an entire state or region. You tell yourself you’ll be the best real estate agent in Florida. Or the best in the southeast. Or the best in the world!

But can you be the best real estate agent in your own neighborhood?

Seth Godin, the author of 18 bestsellers about marketing and leadership, calls this tendency to think big as opposed to thinking small “hiding in infinity.”

He says:

“Whenever possible, ask yourself… ‘what’s the smallest group of people I could make a difference for?’ Smallest feels risky. Because if you pick smallest and you fail, now you’ve really screwed up. We want to pick big because infinity is our friend. Infinity is safe. Infinity gives us a place to hide.

(For more on this, check out Godin’s book Purple Cow. This quote comes at the 12:20 mark of his podcast “How to Think Small to Go Big” with Tim Ferriss.)

So find your niche—whether it’s selling waterfront properties in Naples, Florida, or selling chocolate-covered frozen bananas (I’m just spit-balling here)—and become a thought leader for everyone who’s interested in your little sliver of the world.

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Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Rd. #12

Naples, Florida 34105

239-344-7510

LarsonEd.com


*Footnote: Anyone who’s interested in SEO should follow Google’s Webmaster Blog. For the longest time, I could never find a primary source for Google’s algorithm updates. Any website or article you read about Google’s updates are using this blog as their source material. Rather than rechecking this site every few weeks, I would suggest signing up for their email feed—they’re quite infrequent, so they won’t clutter your inbox. Just click on “Feed” on the right side of webmasters.googleblog.com then click on “Get Google Webmaster Central Blog delivered by email” as seen in the pictures below.

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