Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In a subdivision, a house that sits on a hill with the back of their lot facing a lake has a retaining wall that is severely bulging; noticably only when wlaking along the lake. Who is responsible for the lateral support? And is the agent responsible for diclosing this information even if they didn't know due to not walking the trail (sidewalk) around the lake?

The entity responible for the retaining depends upon who owns the land.  If the homeowner owns, then the homeowner has to make the repair.  If it's owned by the HOA or rather denoted as a common element, then the HOA must repair in order to maintain lateral support.

The agent only can disclose what is know by the agent.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Who determines market value if an appraiser is responsible for determining "appraised value?"

When property taxes are being determined, the fair market value is actually determined by the tax assessor of the county.  This process is not a simple one.  However, it is derived using a combination of the amount of property owned, the location of the property and assigned value of properties in the area.

Appraisers, on the other hand, use information obtained from research of the market and the activity of buyers of other properties.  They use this information to form an opinion of value or appraised value.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

If airplanes go over an owner's house, is the owner entitled to reimbursement of air rights the planes took?

First it should be understood that the state sold properties to citizens with the exception of several routes (air rights).  One would need to go back and research the actual owner of the air rights.  It is more than likely the case that the air rights were either sold to the airport, an airline or included as an exception in a deed.

If a wife's name is on the title, deed and mortgage, is the husband absolved of all late payment punishments?

If the husband is not listed on the mortgage, then he does not have any responsibility/liability to the debt.

Is there an easier way to remember the major difference between an appurtenant and a tenement?

An appurtenant is something that may or may not be attached to the land, but it is a part.  So think of the "appurt" portion of the word as "a part that comes with the land."

On the other hand tenements are always attached to the land.

Does an owner of a parcel of land have the right to build a shed over a dry streambed on his property?

This question can only be answered with, "it depends."  If there is a zoning law that prevents this action, then the answer is no.  Also, there may be deed restrictions which could prevent this action as well.  However, I would say that this action would be allowable as long as the streambed is not obstructed or blocked.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Land trusts are created by the Trustor usually for the benefit of remaining anonymous to sellers. How does turning real estate into personal property make this so? HOw is that relevenat? Also, how does this help avoid creditors? Do those exercising the other trusts not have the right to remain anonymous as well?

First understand that a trust of any kind is a legal arrangement where one person (trustee) holds property for another person's benefit (beneficiary).  The original owner never gives up control of the assets, but the trustee becomes the owner for public appearances and legal purposes -- to sell, to enter into contracts to sell, to mortgage and subdivide land.  The beneficiary has the right to possess the property, the income generated and the proceeds from a sale of the property.

All trusts provide anonymity to the owner and protects the original owner from certain legal proceedings and tax/credit obligations.  When a trust has been established it survives eternally.  The original owner can name additional beneficiaries.  Since the beneficiary has already been named and the trust never dies, there is no need for probate.

When a land trust is established, the identity of the trustor(s) is protected.  The identity of the original owner can only be revealed by court order.  Being anonymous means that the trustor can avoid law suits which include those from creditors.  Taxes are paid by trusts.  But the original owner does not pay taxes on the assets held within a trust.

A great example of how land trusts are used involved the created of Disney World in Florida.  Since Walt Disney had already built Disney Land in California and was, at the time, one of the wealthiest men in the country, he could not go to Florida and purchase the 27,000 acres at fair market value ($180 per acre at the time).  So in order for him to acquire the property at fair prices, he established several land trusts.  The sellers only dealt with the trustee of each land trust and sold for fair prices.

Friday, June 6, 2014

What are questions I should ask when interviewing brokers?

About the Firm:

  1. How long has the firm been in business?
  2. Is it an independent company or franchise?
  3. How many locations to you have?
  4. What is the background of the qualifying broker and management team?
  5. How many agents do you currently have?
  6. What's your retention rate?
  7. How many listings does the office currently have?
  8. How many listings did you have last year?
  9. What's you close ratio?

Training Program:

  1. Do you offer ongoing training?  If so, is there a cost for it?
  2. Is there a structured new agent training program?
  3. May I see a sample training schedule?
  4. Do you reimburse for outside training?
  5. Who provides the training and what is their background?
  6. Is there a mentoring or shadowing program?
  7. Do you have a new agent orientation program?
  8. Are there opportunities for licensing credits?

Income and Expenses:

  1. What compensation plans do you offer?
  2. What expenses should I expect to incur monthly? Annually?
  3. What is the average income for agents in this office?
  4. Do you offer bonuses?
  5. How are referral fees handled?
  6. What type of auto insurance should I have?
  7. What's the procedure for getting paid for closings?
  8. Are there annual, monthly or other ongoing fees?
  9. How are my own real estate transactions handled?
  10. To which multiple listing service(s) does the company belong?


  1. Where does the company advertise?  Publications? Websites?
  2. May I see samples of your advertising/marketing efforts?
  3. Can I create/use my own logo?
  4. Do you have established advertising/marketing guidelines?
  5. Are templates available for print material?

Agent Development:

  1. Are leads provided?  If so, on what basis?
  2. What are your expectations of your agents?
  3. Is phone time or duty agent opportunities available?  When would I be eligible to start?
  4. Do you send out announcement cards and press releases for new agents?
  5. Can I host open houses for office listings of other agents?
  6. Do you help new agents with business planning?
  7. Do you provide business cards and other start-up materials for new agents?
  8. Are agents allowed to brand themselves?

Office Management:

  1. Is your office team-based or do agents work independently?
  2. Is there a policies and procedures manual?
  3. What staff is available in the office?
  4. Is there an office manager?  What is their background?
  5. What are the office manager's primary responsibilities?
  6. Are there regular sales meetings?
  7. What is the office culture?
  8. Do your agents do property tours together?
  9. How are Errors and Omissions insurance claims handled?
  10. What happens to my listings if I decide to change brokers?


  1. Are computers and printers available in the office for use by agents?
  2. What other office equipment is available? Are there additional fees?
  3. What software/systems are available to help me manage my business?
  4. Do you provide websites for agents?
  5. Do you provide voice mail?  Email? Direct phone numbers?
  6. Are sample listing/buyer presentations available?


  1. Is office/work space available for agents?
  2. Are conference rooms available for meeting clients?
  3. Is there a dedicated training room?
  4. Are there any satellite offices around the city?
  5. Is 24-hour access available to the office(s)?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Would it be more beneficial to be affiliated with a name brand agency or non-name brand, i.e. Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, etc)?

The brokerage firm with which one affiliates should not be based on the name more so than the fit.  Once an gent has determined what area of real estate they would like to practice, the amount of support they feel they will need and the affiliation terms that will be acceptable, then the search for the appropriate firm will be easier.

There are advantages and disadvantages of affiliating with franchises or locally owned companies.  An advantage of going with a franchise would be the networking system among all of the franchises nationwide.  A disadvantage would be the likelihood that a franchise fee will be required in addition to your monthly fees.

Affiliating with locally owned companies has advantages and disadvantages as well.  An advantage could be the lack of having to pay franchise fees.  Another advantage would be that the company can brand itself as the local authority.  A disadvantage could be decreased name recognition.

Either way, an agent's success will be based more on the agent's efforts than the company's efforts.  Be sure to affiliate with a firm that will line up with your business goals.  Finding the right company is much more important than going after a name.

Would it be beneficial to be a mortgage loan originator? Would it help my real estate business? Where could I find more information?

It can be beneficial to obtain your loan originator license.  However, it is a licensed position now which requires pre-license education, testing, license fees and continuing education.  Although one can hold both a real estate salesperson license and a loan originator license, it needs to be understood that one cannot work on any deals where the potential buyer is being represented for the real estate acquisition as well as the financing.  As long as one keeps the two separate, then it can work.  It is absolutely vital that real estate professionals avoid creating conflicts of interest.

Holding a loan originator license would position one to more informed to the public.  However, since one would be restricted in practice, having the additional license would not necessarily help the real estate business per se.  One way it could help would be in the fact that clients/customers would view the agent as a greater resource.

Learn more information about obtaining a loan originator license here from the NMLS (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System).

Is it beneficial to hold a real estate license in multiple states?

It can be a great benefit to hold real estate licenses in several states.  It can be a very expensive proposition to do as well.  It needs to be kept in mind that license fees will have to be paid in all the states.  Continuing education requirements will need to be met in all the states.  Brokerage firm affiliation fees will have to paid.  And so on and so on.

Unless you spend a lot of time in another state or have a strong client base there, it would be better to concentrate on making referrals.  There are agents who are licensed in more than one state, but usually the other state(s) borders Georgia.  These agents travel back and forth easily and often doing business.

If the other state in which to be licensed is further away, then one really needs to consider if it will be financially feasible.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Notice to Terminate Lease by Landlord

Editable template


NOTICE TO:  _________________________, TENANTS in possession and all others:

Address of Premises: _______________________________________


      1.    Pursuant to a written lease (the “Lease”) dated _______________, you are a tenant for the premises described as: _______(Address)___________________ (the “Premises”), of which you now hold possession.
2.       Your Lease creates a yearly tenancy.
3.       Your Lease outlines the provisions of default by the Tenant on page 5, paragraph 22.  Your violation is Point 4: Tenant fails to pay rent timely or other amounts owed to Landlord under this Lease.
4.       Under section labeled, Late Payment: Service for Returned Checks on page 1 of the Lease outlines the parameters for payment of rent, when rent is late and whether Landlord shall accept it.  The Landlord is not accepting rent as action to continue tenancy agreement.
5.       Your Lease or the applicable laws of the State of Georgia requires that you be given notice prior to the termination of your Lease or tenancy.  This Notice of Termination serves as notification of the Landlord’s intention to terminate your Lease.
6.       Pursuant to your Lease and the said laws, you are hereby given notice that the Landlord is exercising its right to terminate your Lease effective on the ____ day of (Month) 2014 and you are required to vacate the Premises on or before 12 noon on this date.
7.       All terms and obligations in the Lease, including, but not limited to, the obligation to pay rent, remain in effect until the latter of the ____ day of ________, 2014 and when you have returned possession of the Premises to the Landlord or its agent.

Issued on: _____ day of ________, 2014

___________________________                        ____________________________
Landlord’s Name:                                                  Contact Address

___________________________                        ____________________________
Landlord’s Name:                                                  Contact Address

Attached: Copy of Lease

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

If your listing expires and a buyer you brought to the property returns and the seller accepts their offer, do you get paid?

The short answer, YES!!!  When you can show that you were the procuring cause of a sell, you can petition for your commission.  The key is that you must show proof that you were indeed the procuring cause.  Thus, you must maintain a record of all buyers who view the property during your listing term.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Are there real estate syndicates in Atlanta?

The short answer is yes.  As a quick review, a syndicate is an organized pooling of funds amongst a group of investors for the purpose of acquiring or investing in real estate.

I did a Google search for Syndicates in Atlanta and a lot of options came up.  I don't want to list any because I don't want it to be misconstrued that I am promoting any one(s) of them.  So I simply want to inform you that there are syndicates in Atlanta.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What is the difference between an estate at will and an estate for years?

An estate for years is a written agreement that has a definite start date and end date.  This lease does not require notice from the tenant or landlord.  At the conclusion of the term, the tenant is expected to move out.
An estate at will, om the other hand, is one that does not have a written lease.  The tenant has permission to occupy the property for an indefinite period of time.  The tenant or landlord can terminate the occupancy arrangement at any time or at will.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Can you make up a missed class by attending a class that you did not register for?

Short answer, yes.  In order to make up missed class time, one should contact the GIRE office staff to make arrangements for making up the time.

If a neighbor has a fire pit that smokes up your property and house, is that a "nuisance" or "health concern?"

The short answer, nuisance.  Depending upon regulations set by the local municipality, this infringement could be more than just a nuisance.  A resident experiencing this problem has the option to petition the municipality code or ordinance departments to address the issue.

Locally, it is permissible for residents to burn yard debris including purchased wood during the fall, winter and spring.  There are restrictions during the summer when the ozone reaches unhealthy levels.

Difference between appurtenance and tenements?

An appurtenance is real property that automatically conveys with ownership.  It can be an improvement such as a shed or garage, a right such as a right of way for someone else, or an interest such as use of common elements in a subdivision.  An appurtenance is that which belongs to something else.  Examples: a back yard goes with the adjoining house as well as the water storage tank, shed, septic tank and right of way for someone else.  None of these are directly connected to the house, but in conveying ownership they will NOT be removed.

Tenements are things that are attached to the land physically or legally.  Examples include land, houses, barns and the right to collect rent (legal).

The difference between two terms is that appurtenances deal with what is conveyed with ownership while tenements describe what the real property consists of.

Recommendations for studying for quizzes, exams? Do you recommend flash cards to remember vocabulary?

A great resource that will help you through the class as well as in your real estate career is the book entitled, The Language of Real Estate by John W. Reilly.  This book defines real estate terms and provides examples of them.  You can purchase from GIRE or me.  

I hesitate to give you other resources to use to study.  One, because the slightest variation in the description of a concept can cause more confusion.  And two, you will have so much material as we move through the course that you really will not need additional materials.

Flash cards are an excellent method to employ.  Put the term on one side and write the explanation/definition on the other side.  During the course I will also present other memory tools to aid your success.

What about asking the broker about commission percentage to broker versus agent and how it increases? Desk fees?

During an interview, it is imperative that you know the rate of pay.  A commission split can be the deciding factor between one broker and another.  It is not only acceptable to have this discussion, but strongly advised.

Do you recommend previewing properties beforehand?

In some cases, I would say that you should definitely preview properties prior to taking potential buyers.  In other cases, I would say that it's not necessary.  I typically will preview properties for out-of-town buyers so that I can provide them with more information about the property.  This will allow them to eliminate those properties that do not meet their needs.  And when they are in town, we can use our time much more efficiently.  There are instances when I will preview properties for local buyers.  This usually is done for those who are short on availability time due to work or other commitments.

Once you are practicing, you will develop your own standards as to when to preview or not.

If you schedule for the State exam and something happens that causes you to need to reschedule, is that possible?

The short answer is YES.  Go to www.GoAMP.com, click on Schedule/Apply For An Exam under the Candidates tab.  Then select Real Estate as the Category, Georgia Examination Program as the Program and Salesperson Examination as the Examination.  You will be taken to a screen that allows you to access materials including the Candidate Handbook, calculator guidelines, Lawful Presence Notarized Affidavit and other things.  Included on this page is a button where you can Reschedule an Exam.