West Virginia Real Estate License and You

Real estate licenses are required to list, sell, option, rent, manage, lease, appraise or auction real estate or any interest in real estate in every state of the nation, except that in some states, an attorney who personally engages in any of the above activities to affect real estate transactions for compensation does not require a real estate license as long as s/he does not operate an agency that employs real estate sales persons for whom s/he has given an undertaking.

This is true for Texas, NY and NJ in addition to a number of other states, but in West Virginia attorneys who wish to transact real estate business for compensation are required to submit to the written test required under the West Virginia Real Estate License Act in order to qualify for a broker’s license. One exception is that attorneys who were licensed as real estate brokers before July, 1980 and maintained their licenses in good standing are exempt from the written test required under the law.

There are a number of reasons why states require individuals to obtain licenses as a prerequisite to engaging in the real business, and similarly, there are as many reasons that continuing education has become a requirement for licensed holders to renew and maintain their licenses. For some of the same reasons criminal background checks have recently been instituted by the West Virginia Real Estate Commission and the most important reason for subjecting would-be real estate professionals to all these regulations is public safety and protection from unscrupulous operators.

In bygone eras when so-called business people have been left to their own self-imposed rules of operations, many of them acted in their own self interests at the expense of those on whose behalf they should have acted and, as a result, a lot of people lost a lot of assets (cash, property and otherwise) which they could not retrieve. Such activity not only deprived honest and trusting consumers of their hard-earned possessions, it also created public distrust of an overall industry, thereby placing a blemish on those agents who performed with a high degree of integrity.

“Lying, cheating, and stealing” are words used on the FBI website to describe white-collar crime, a term which was originally used in 1939 and is today synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. A few names that might come to mind are Bernard Madoff, who bilked investors out of $Billions; Enron corporation, which cheated investors out of $Millions; and Angel Puentes, the self-proclaimed “House King” of South Florida real estate, who used loan origination scams to defraud mortgage lenders out of $Millions.

Most states and jurisdictions utilize preventive measures by way of establishing guidelines in an attempt to keep people and entities like those mentioned above from doing any kind of business in their communities, and part of these measures employed in the local real estate industry is the enactment of licensing laws and articles of ethics in business. West Virginia is certainly among the most proactive states in its approach to protecting consumers of real estate services, as evidenced by the first article of the West Virginia Real Estate License Act WV Code 30-40.

It states: “As a matter of public policy, it is necessary to protect the public interest from the unauthorized, unqualified and unregulated practice of real estate brokerage through enactment of this article and to regulate the granting of such privileges and their use.”

Note that the law is meant, not only to protect the public from unauthorized practice, but also unqualified and unregulated practice, which indicates that without proper training, education and enforcement there might still be ample opportunities for the unscrupulous to engage in illegal activities that could result in consumers being harmed. Understanding that no law is perfect and therefore will not deter every ill-intended act, it is clear that the West Virginia Real Estate License Act is effectively proactive in that regard.

The Unique Nature of a West Virginia Real Estate License

Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy. The Greenbrier. International Mother’s Day Shrine. These are all national historic landmarks located in the state of West Virginia, and as such, are as unique to this State as a timber trail in Slanesville, bass fishing on Patterson Creek in Headsville, and the Ruby-throated hummingbird. The same is true for a West Virginia real estate license, which authorizes the holder to list, sell, purchase, exchange, option, rent, manage or lease WV real estate on behalf of others for compensation.

Acquiring the training and education necessary to obtain a real estate broker’s or salesperson’s license can be equal, in importance, to the requirement for obtaining such a license to transact business as a real estate agent in WV. And a well established West Virginia real estate school must always be the essential first step that any aspiring real estate agent could take if s/he expects to achieve success in this very competitive field.

So important is the residency requirement that, each member of the five member West Virginia Real Estate Commission “must have been a resident of this state for at least six years prior to appointment and remain a resident” during the four year appointment term and, with the exception of one citizen member, four members must have been “licensed and practiced in this State as a Broker, Associate Broker or Salesperson as his or her primary vocation for a period of not less than ten years.”

Based on the foregoing it is clear that there’s much more to a career in real estate sales than simply arriving in town, setting up shop – in this case a real estate office – and start soliciting customers. No, a real estate agency requires more of the individual(s) operating it; and it requires more of the entity regulating it which is evidenced by the new criminal background check recently instituted by that entity, the Commission. And since this is true, shouldn’t more also be expected of the school(s) teaching it?

If your first stop on the road to a real estate sales career in WV is a classroom to learn how you could best obtain the prerequisites to such a career, and you are presented with a choice of a West Virginia real estate school with 20 years of hands on experience in the state of WV, or a school which was recently established in the state with less experience and less of a history in the state, your decision would most likely be what is considered a smart one if you utilize the more established learning facility. After all, there is nothing more descriptive of, and unique to West Virginia than the land, all that is attached to it and those whose histories are intertwined with it.

So if you are not fully aware of the three historic landmarks mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s okay! Just know they are distinctly West Virginian in that, Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy was founded in 1848 in Ohio County, West Virginia; The Greenbrier is a Forbes four-star and AAA Five Diamond Award winning luxury resort located just outside the town of White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County, West Virginia; and International Mother’s Day Shrine is a tribute to all mothers housed in Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church (constructed in 1873) located on Main Street in downtown Grafton in Taylor County, West Virginia. Today the church serves as the “mother church” of Mother’s Day.

The distinction of being West Virginian is shared only with other distinctly West Virginian icons, entities, property and citizens of WV; and the real estate brokers, associate brokers and salespersons licensed to transact business in this State, as well as the well-established real estate schools where they obtain their initial training are outstanding examples of the unique West Virginian.

Genuine West Virginia Real Estate School

There are some licenses that empower holders to act in particular capacities wherever in the country and – it can some be said, in the world – they happen to be. Types of Licenses that might grant this authority would include Radio Services Licenses, Software Licenses, International Driver Licenses, Bank Licenses, Federal Firearm Licenses, Pilot and Airline Licenses, plus a number of others which cannot be listed here.

However, the course of study required to obtain an international driver’s license for example must, by the very nature of the licensed permissions, be more encompassing than a state issued license for local use; and the holder of such a license is likewise obligated to adhere to the driving laws, customs and restrictions of the various cities and localities in which s/he operates a vehicle. This obligation therefore is spread over multiple countries, each of which expects as much from the licensee in the form of obeying their laws, as they grant with the issuance of a license to drive.

The same reasoning can be applied to a real estate school that is licensed to offer and teach real estate licensing courses of study and issue certifications of course completion in every state throughout the country, from Alabama to Wyoming, thereby obligating that school to the adherence of real estate licensing laws set forth by each state’s licensing agency. So while this nationwide school has managed to spread or duplicate itself in all fifty states, it can hardly claim undivided loyalty and attention to one.

On the other hand, the genuine West Virginia real estate school designation can only be bestowed upon a genuine West Virginia real estate school. West Virginians might just be more comfortable in knowing that their real estate school instructor understands country living and the West Virginia way of life, and has an established record over an extended period of teaching experience in West Virginia real estate licensing courses. They might like to know that s/he has an innate knowledge of the subject matter and is eager to impart that knowledge to West Virginia real estate license applicants, as well as currently licensed brokers and salespersons via the continuing education courses as required by state law.

A genuine West Virginia real estate school that offers a complete line of approved seven-hour courses in class, as well as live online real estate classes, and is Arello approved for a 90 Hour Pre Sales License Course certainly employs techniques and methods consistent with the most effective and results oriented practices in the industry; and making available the latest technology, tools and resources necessary to insure successful completion of the required real estate licensing courses will certainly benefit West Virginia real estate license applicants.

But most importantly, WV real estate broker and salesperson licensees and those who aspire to be WV real estate broker and salesperson licensees can be comforted in knowing that – all other things being equal – classes offered by the genuine West Virginia Real Estate School are all approved by the West Virginia Real Estate Commission; they are competitively priced and they meet such high standards as the state of WV requires for delivery of education in real estate licensing. So be assured that not every real estate school that sets up shop in WV can be considered a “genuine WV” school.

A real estate broker anywhere, is entrusted with an enormous undertaking and bears the responsibility of handling the sale, management or lease of the single biggest asset most people will ever possess; the property they own. It is for this reason that the real estate broker must acknowledge and accept the fiduciary role and the principle on which it is based: The interest of your client must in all circumstances be placed ahead of your own. Thus the most important reason for well taught real estate licensing and continuing education classes designed to equip real estate licensing students and already licensed professionals with the education they will need in order to adequately meet the challenges which are inherent in protecting their clients interests.

A genuine West Virginia real estate school obviously plays an instrumental role in helping real estate license applicants prepare to meet such a challenge and, as such, might offer more extensive courses of study sufficient to complete such preparation. Such courses of study might include:

Real Estate Agency, Real Estate Brokerage, Listing Agreements, Dual Agency, Real Property and the Law, Transfer of Title, Title Records, Real Estate Financing Principles & Practice, Leases, Property Management, Fair Housing and Ethical Practices, Environmental Issues and Real Estate Transactions, Closing the Real Estate Transaction, Real Estate Math, plus a number of other subjects. There is much to cover in your role as a real estate broker, because there is a lot in the way of client’s interests to protect. Getting the requisite knowledge is your first step toward what promises to be a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Who’s Afraid of Haunted Real Estate?

You know the feeling

It’s a cool autumn night, and the twilight breeze begins to whistle through the window panes. Leaves rustle outside, and shadows dance along the walls. Grateful for the warmth of your bed, you shut out the light and curl up under the blankets. But just as you begin to drift off to sleep,  you hear something – a soft noise. Maybe the floorboards settling with the weather.  Perhaps a creak from the basement stairs. But nothing out of the ordinary, really.

But then. Then, there’s this feeling that you shouldn’t fall asleep just yet. So instead, you sit up and listen intently. Something is different. You push the blankets aside and quietly get out of bed. Padding silently across the room, you creep down the hall and peer out the windows. Everything appears to be in order. You check all the locks and open every closet door in the house, but there is simply no explanation for this feeling of unease. Nonetheless, you just can’t shake it. Several cups of tea and a few reruns later, you nod off to sleep, only to wake the next morning wondering what in the world had gotten into you.

If you’ve never had this experience, lucky you

If you have, then I’m certain you wondered (even for the briefest moment) whether or not your house might be haunted.

With Halloween just around the corner, Realtor.com released their Haunted Housing Report last week, indicating that 62 percent of consumers admitted to being open to purchasing haunted real estate. Thirty-six percent said they might consider a haunted home, and 38 percent said no way.

As a real estate salesperson, recently finishing classes, at the West Virginia Real Estate School, Spruce, it’s interesting to understand how people perceive homes with a spooky backstory, or what “warning signs” they think might indicate that a house is haunted. For instance, the Realtor.com report revealed that consumers considered the following as signs a home could be haunted:

  • A cemetery on the property
  • The home is over 100 years old
  • Quick transitions in owners
  • Unexplainable low price
  • Close proximity to a battlefield.

Real Estate Salespeople Be Forewarned

But, real estate salespeople be forewarned: even though the majority of consumers are open to purchasing haunted real estate in West Virginia, many also expect to receive a discount. And you should also know that the following occurrences might stop a buyer from purchasing a house all together:

  • Strange noises
  • Warm or cold spots
  • Flickering lights/appliances
  • Supernatural sensations
  • Ghost sightings

So there you have it. If you are (or aspire to hold) a West Virginia real estate license, keep an eye out for the properties with a bit of history. Every house has a story, but not every house has a ghost story.

To finish off in the spirit of Halloween, we thought it would be fun to share a few local haunted real estate stories: how would you like to be the listing agent for any of these West Virginia properties?

 

Borland Springs Hotel, Borland, WV

Borland Hotel
Borland Hotel, Borland, WV

According to Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State, this hotel was built by John Wilber Grimm in 1908, and business flourished until 1918 when Grimm’s son, Frank Chandis Grimm shot and killed 20-year-0ld John Maidens in the spring house. Apparently, the murder was the result of a love triangle involving a young woman named Miss Pearson, and soon after the crime, business took a turn for the worse. Despite renovations (including the blood-stained spring house) and other improvements, guests reported hearing strange noises and experiencing other eerie occurrences. The hotel officially shut down in 1941, but it is still rumored to be haunted.

 

The Apollo Theater, Martinsburg, WV

The Apollo Theater, Martinsburg, WV
The Apollo Theater, Martinsburg, WV
West Virginia Real Estate School
Apollo Theater, Martisburg, WV

Built in 1913, the Apollo Theater came under new management in the 1920s by a man named Charlie, who often wore a fedora pulled low over his forehead and his coat collar turned up. During his time there, he enjoyed taking strolls along the streets of the city, puffing away at a cigar and taking in the hustle and bustle of the town. To this day, eyewitnesses have spotted Charlie’s figure outside the theater, and others have encountered the smell of cigar smoke while working inside the theater.

 

The Frederick Hotel, Huntington, WV

Apollo Theater, Martinsburg, WV
The Frederick Hotel, Huntington, WV

This hotel was the hub of entertainers

and high-profile newsmakers back in its heyday. It’s grand opening was held in 1906, and the entire construction cost $400,000. According to sources, the restaurant area and the sixth floor are the most haunted, and first hand accounts describe the sounds of children, footsteps, and the sound of keys jangling in the hallways. One eyewitness claims to have been sitting in the main lobby of the building when the lobby music suddenly stopped, and a scream broke the silence. Then the music picked back up as if nothing had happened. Others have heard the sounds of “ghosts arguing” and there was reportedly a murder-suicide in the building several years ago.

So there’s a sampling of the haunted history of West Virginia . . . whether you believe in ghosts or not, it’s still fun to learn about the rich history of local real estate. Those stories often last longer than the buildings themselves, and add to the lore and character of our hometowns. And speaking of, we love first-hand testimonials of real-life haunted houses. Please share your own ghost stories with the West Virginia real estate schoolin the comments!

These great halloween tidbits are brought to you by the West Virginia Real Estate School, Spruce School of Real Estate. Helping thousands of people get their West Virginia real estate license for over 20 years!

Background Checks for WV Real Estate License Become Huge Annoyance

If you’re trying to get a West Virginia Real Estate License and test in November, 2013 you’re probably getting very frustrated.

sample fingerprint
Background checks from Identogo are now mandatory.

It seems that Identogo, the company hired as a third party screener by the West Virginia Real Estate Commission to do background checks on all students hoping to get their West Virginia Real Estate License has had some problems communicating the info to the commission.

Red Tape and Issues

Red tape abounds and getting a West Virginia Real Estate License truly is a lot of paperwork. This most recent hold up is just another frustration for hopeful students hoping to be selling real estate in December.

What does this mean to the hopeful test takers? It means that the WVREC doesn’t have the applications completed in time to test in November. Click to Tweet

What’s most frustrating to many hopeful West Virginia Real Estate License students is although the checks were done on time it was something that was outside of everyone’s control that held up the applications. Identogo, the company in charge of the background checks has yet to comment on the situation. So what are the new guidelines being asked for? As of October 8th, 2013 having a background check accompanying your West Virginia Real Estate License, application is state law.

See details from the source, the WVREC

To brief yourself from the source, here’s the West Virginia Real Estate Commission’s website: https://rec.wv.gov/Forms/Pages/default.aspx

The physical form that you need is located here: WVREC Background Check Form

You will need to make an appointment with this company called Indentogo by calling 855-766-7746 or using their website: https://Identogo.com to register an appointment. The commission isn’t allowing any more testees to test unless a background check is completed beforehand. Let me repeat, YOU WILL NEED TO SUBMIT A BACKGROUND CHECK WITH YOUR APPLICATION.

If you already submitted your application you will STILL need to do this background check in order to test. The background check will be sent electronically to the WVREC by Identogo once it is completed so the form does NOT need to be mailed.

SUMMARY:

1) Make an appointment with Identogo by calling 855-766-7746 or using their website: https://Identogo.com

2) Complete this form: WVREC Background Check Form and take it with you to your appointment

Spruce School of Real Estate prides itself on being your #1 West Virginia Real Estate School. Spruce wants to help with any confusion regarding this new addition to the paperwork in order to get your Real Estate License. We also would like to show some empathy about your anticipated deadlines potentially not being met for this November testing date.

We understand as much as anyone when something beyond your control throws everything off. That is apparently becoming the case here with Identogo and the West Virginia Real Estate Commission not being on the same page when it came to getting everyone filed on time.

Good news is there’s always December. What better gift to give yourself for Christmas than the potential for a new career? Spruce, taking pride as the premier West Virginia Real Estate School, will help any way we can in seeing you get your West Virginia Real Estate License and come December’s test, all of the communication breakdown between the WVREC and Identego should be resolved.