Five Good Reasons Getting a Real Estate License in West Virginia is a Smart Idea

Business is great. A  real estate business is unique. As a real estate salesperson, you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. You will be independent, but you will also have the support and training provided by your broker and colleagues.

Realtor delivering keys to buyer
5 Great Reasons to Get a Real Estate License

Getting a real estate license in West Virginia says a whole lot about your commitment to your personal and professional advancement – and this can enhance any career path. A real estate license in West Virginia is a credential that will only improve your marketability, even if you don’t plan on listing and selling on a full time basis. West Virginia real estate schools pride themselves on producing students who give themselves and others a snapshot of what it means to be independently successful.

You’ll learn the difference between being a student and being a learner.  All WV real estate schools require you to be a good student. However, Spruce School wants you to also understand how to be a good learner. Getting a real estate license in West Virginia is certainly evidence that you can process new information and use it in context. However, the learning doesn’t stop after you pass your real estate exam. Holding a real estate license in West Virginia also demands a new set of skills – ingenuity, hands-on problem solving, and negotiation. These are the things that make you so much more than a real estate student – they make you a lifelong learner.

You don’t have to check your ambition at the door. Go ahead and dream. No invisible barriers in the way, no waiting for the next perfect opening. The day you are issued your real estate license in West Virginia is the day you can run with your aspirations. You are an entrepreneur – and that’s exciting. The drive that motivated you to pull through real estate school is all you need. You are in charge of your own goal setting.

Real estate is the perfect place to use the skills you have and unearth the ones you didn’t even know about. In my personal experience, I’ve learned that you don’t always know what you can do until you have to. So don’t presuppose your strengths and weaknesses. There are never guarantees, especially when choosing a career path, but you might just learn a whole lot about yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone. If you have the wherewithal to take chances, open yourself to opportunity, and learn all about breaking through limitations, then getting your real estate license in West Virginia is for you.

Are you a team player? Or do you prefer to work independently? Are you an extrovert or introvert? No matter how you replied, the answer is: Great! A one-size-fits-all personality type is not a prerequisite for getting a real estate license in West Virginia. Real estate is so flexible, you can work in whatever capacity that works best for you.. And you decide your process and systems, just as long as they fit within your broker’s organizational culture.

You can show ‘em how it’s done. Passing the exam and getting a real estate license in West Virginia isn’t easy. But it sure does fill up your confidence bucket when you do. This last point is just to remind you not to minimize the accomplishment or the pride you deserve to have in yourself.  Sure, good things come to those who wait, but even better things come to those who make them happen. And if you are reading this blog post, then you are one of those people.

Values-Based Selling: Image and Integrity in Real Estate

I know, I know. I get those funny looks when I open up conversations about the softer side of business development (i.e. values, ethics, principles, and mission) and how this can build and enhance the hard science of selling – including your profit margin.

Image of real estate agents
How will you represent yourself? Integrity in the workplace can become second place

But honestly, a real estate salesperson’s business is all about his or her professional image. It’s about projecting integrity, trustworthiness, and dependability. This is important to clients, and it’s been documented that it only takes seven seconds to make a first impression. The easiest way, then, to be sure your first impression as a real estate salesperson is one of high integrity is to make sure you are abiding by your own set of guiding principles.

I recently re-read the book, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, and I was reminded of how the four ideologies represented in the book are paradoxical in their depth and simplicity. But perhaps more importantly, they are the perfect place to start when considering the essential task of developing your own mission statement and how you will represent yourself – both in your own life and to your clients. While this certainly isn’t a course in ethics, this is a good way to begin thinking about what kind of professional image you would like to project out there in the real estate world. Because while real estate school prepares you for the book smarts you need to succeed, developing your own sense of professionalism as a real estate salesperson is all on you.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth, and take responsibility for yourself.

As a real estate agent, blame-shifting and finger-pointing is something you may have to deal with when closings get delayed, inspections don’t turn out perfectly, and offers get rejected. It helps when you affirm to yourself and others that you mean what you say, and promise only what you can deliver. Be as good as your word.

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own perceptions, whether they are right or faulty. Be immune to the opinions of others, and pay attention only to what is true and what you can change.

Real estate salespeople must understand themselves well enough to temper their own emotions during a difficult transaction or when dealing with a high-maintenance client. It seems obvious that getting angry or creating conflict isn’t going to benefit anyone in the long run, but it is easy to slip up and let our emotions run awry.

WV Real Estate School
How does integrity fit here?

By understanding that even if someone yells, blames, or gossips, it’s really not about you. It’s about their own beliefs and points of view, which they feel they must defend. Even criticisms that seem directed at you really say more about the other person’s state of mind than it reflects who you are. So when it’s all said and done, what other people think about you is really none of your business, right? So don’t take it personally.

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

Ask questions. Communicate as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.

As a real estate salesperson, you will often find yourself under pressure to have answers or get them quickly. It’s okay to be uncertain or admit to not having the right response – what’s not okay is making up answers or misguiding anyone, even unintentionally. Never, ever make assumptions when you aren’t absolutely sure. Admit when you don’t know something, and say you’ll find out and report back. Be proactive, not reactive. It’ll save you a lot of headache later.

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best.

At the risk of seeming too simplistic, or something like a trite aphorism, this agreement is arguably the most important. Doing your best as a real estate salesperson means taking action because you love it. Because you are driven by integrity and the desire to serve your clients – not necessarily because you are expecting something in return.

As Ruiz says, you are alive, so take your life and enjoy it. You hold (or are in the process of attaining) a real estate license because you said yes to opportunity. Take that opportunity and show the world what you can do with it – using the highest form of integrity you can muster. Being a whole person means to define and abide by your own set of personal principles, which ultimately become business principles. Your clients and colleagues will recognize this in you, and will choose you above the others. Remember, actions become habits, and habits become character. Let your character sell who you are, and your sales report will follow.

The Difference Between Realtors® and Real Estate Agents

I. Realtors® Defined

There is a subtle but significant difference between Realtors® and real estate agents and it’s not just something confusing to students at the West Virginia Real Estate School, Spruce School of Real Estate, it’s everyone. Said simply, just because you hold a WV Real Estate License it doesn’t mean you automatically have earned the title of REALTOR®: while both a real estate agent and a REALTOR® are licensed to list and sell real estate, only Realtors® have pledged to adhere to a Code of Ethics set forth by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). This doesn’t change the fact that both agents and Realtors® are held to the same legal standards in terms of principles and practice, but it does subject Realtors® to the enforcement of a set of 17 ethical standards that are strictly governed.

In addition, because Realtors® are active members of the NAR, they are trademarked as such, and may only use the trademark according to the rules and guidelines of the organization.

Otherwise, both real estate agents and Realtors® have gone through the process of getting a real estate license (in West Virginia, this means taking a 90-hour class and passing the state exam), and are regulated by the same state laws.

So hopefully this statement is making a little more sense now. Just because you hold a WV Real Estate License you can’t call yourself a REALTOR because after you pass the state exam you have yet to become a member to carry the REALTOR designation.

II. The NAR Headquartered in Chicago, The National Association of Realtors® is the largest professional association for real estate practitioners. Residential and commercial real estate salespeople, brokers, appraisers, property managers, and other real estate professionals make up the NAR’s membership body.

So what does this all mean? This means AFTER you get your WV Real Estate License you actually have to do MORE to become a REALTOR®. To join, members must complete a course and pass the exam testing them on their understanding of the code of ethics. Every four years after this, Realtors® must take a refresher course. Members join their local board, which gives them automatic membership in the NAR. (WV Real Estate License Professionals will join their local chapter of the West Virginia Association of Realtors: http://www.wvrealtors.com).

One of the many benefits of becoming a Realtor® is the opportunity it provides for continuing education and self-development as a real estate practitioner. The NAR hosts conferences and networking events, all of which enhances an agent’s ability to gain advantage in a competitive industry. And simply by having the Realtor® designation, salespeople benefit from the inherent trust it draws from clients.

III. The Code of Ethics The Code of Ethics was adopted in 1913, and is enforced by a panel of NAR leaders who evaluate complaints involving the conduct of their members in order to take disciplinary action, if necessary. The code is made up of 17 articles each Realtor® pledges to uphold, including duties to clients and customers (articles 1-9), duties to the public (articles 10-14), and duties to Realtors® (articles 15-17).

The code is revised yearly, but one thing that remains arguably the most important is a Realtor’s pledge to treat all parties fairly and honestly. Real estate professionals should always abide by their own intrinsic sense of ethical standards, but in practice it is inevitable that there will be gray areas and blurred lines – this is when a professional code of ethics becomes a beacon to both practitioners and clients.

Overall, getting the Realtor® designation is always a smart consideration. Between the opportunities for growth, networking, and self-development as an individual and a professional, it can be a valuable enhancement to your career. See the NAR’s website for more information: http://www.realtor.org

Whether you’re taking classes at Spruce, the West Virginia Real Estate School, or have been practicing real estate for years, this topic has always been muddy. People will always seem to confuse a REALTOR® and a real estate agent are and use the term synonymously when they are actually very different. Hopefully this write up helped a little. Whether you’re looking to get a WV real estate license or a real estate license in any state the REALTOR designation is a national entity and this info can be applied to your own locality.

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!

Taking the WV Real Estate Exam

Okay, I’ll be honest. A week ago today, I was standing over my sink with a pint of ice cream and a spoon, prattling on to my best friend about how there was no way I could be a real estate agent. I mean, all the best salespeople are smart and witty and charismatic and funny, and I’m rarely any of the above. (Unless I’m forgetting my keys on the cafeteria conveyer belt again and chasing down the kitchen attendants to explain why I need to rifle through people’s leftovers. Then I’m really funny).

But I do have a point, and this is it: the most important thing I discovered during my experience with Spruce School’s West Virginia online real estate class is that there’s nothing more empowering than being armed with the skill and knowledge that turns doubt into experience – which is why I felt compelled to write this article. Because despite my chronic forgetfulness and occasional episodes of self-deprecation, I am, indeed, a newly minted West Virginia real estate salesperson. And I’m off to a great start with a supportive broker and an encouraging team of coworkers.

So, backstory aside, whether you are considering taking online real estate classes or in-class sessions, I feel the most helpful thing I can address first is the one thing all students are most curious about: the West Virginia real estate exam. Held in Charleston every month, the exam covers four areas of real estate: Principles and Practices, Law, Appraisal, and Finance. You’ll have three hours to take the exam, which is 200 questions long.

But fear not – both online and in-class students will have taken all four sections during the preliminary final exam required to complete the course, and everyone has the opportunity to take Wade Caskey’s one-day review covering all four topics (optional, but I give two enthusiastic thumbs up for this session. It was lively and entertaining, and most importantly, covered a whopping 675 review questions to challenge our knowledge). The review I attended lasted until about 4:00pm.

Now, on exam day, there are a few things you should know:

1. DO locate the restrooms right away. You and pretty much everyone else will probably feel like you are about to throw up at some point. It’s an exam. You’ll be nervous. It’s normal.

2. DO NOT forget your coffee at the hotel like I did. If it weren’t for all the one-way streets, I’d have turned around. (Hey, a girl’s gotta have priorities).

3. If your exam is held at the Civic Center, DO banter with the parking garage attendants. Those guys made my morning. And a good-natured chuckle can make a person feel a lot lighter.

Okay, now for the really important stuff:

  • You will be required to bring a $25.00 exam fee and a photo ID. The fee (cash or check) is collected during the exam, so it’s helpful to have everything ready as soon as you sit down.
  • You should bring a calculator and a few number two pencils. You can bring your study guides and personal items with you, as long as you keep them under the desk and out of sight during the exam.
  • Arrive early. My experience at the Charleston Civic Center was seamless – parking was plentiful in the adjacent garage, and the room location was easy to find. However, there was a large event taking place at the Civic Center at the same time, and the traffic began to back up shortly after I arrived at 8:30am. This may not be the case for you, but better safe than sorry.

I can honestly say of all the exam experiences I’ve ever had, this one was the most organized and least painful. Just study hard, pay attention to the correspondence you receive in the mail from the West Virginia Real Estate Commission (especially the one with your seating assignment – you’ll actually need to bring it with you), and try to get plenty of sleep. If you knew me, this is like the pot calling the kettle black, but I do know that every little bit helps. And rest assured, if you’ve made it this far you’ve already got what it takes. Good luck and go get ‘em. You’re going to do great.