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.

For Sale By Owner. A Licensed Real Estate Agent Might Be Better?

The “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) Challenge: Practical Advice for Agents
I. What is a FSBO?

For Sale by Owner sign
A For Sale By Owner can have negatives a seller might not think of.

A for-sale-by-owner transaction happens when a seller offers his or her property for sale without the assistance of a licensed real estate agent or broker. Usually this is because the seller wants to avoid paying a commission on the sale, but it also means that he or she has to assume all responsibility for completing the transaction without seeking the services of a professional with a real estate license.

II. Understanding the pros and cons

The Pros: Because a licensed agent is not involved in the marketing and selling of the property, sellers reap the financial benefit of retaining the percentage of the sale that would have otherwise been paid to a brokerage. In addition, many sellers enjoy the freedom of handling and marketing the transaction themselves, without the need for interviewing and choosing a licensed agent and brokerage with whom they can feel secure.

The Cons: Without a licensed agent, sellers must become real estate savvy. Pricing a home appropriately requires research and market analysis. An overpriced home can take months longer to sell than expected. An underpriced home devalues neighboring homes and, of course, leaves the seller financially short. And there are several reasons why agents are required to get a real estate license, including understanding the legal and financial risks, and how to best protect the seller through contract negotiation. This alone could be worth hiring a licensed professional.

In addition, agents are businesspeople who thrive on clientele – which means they have close relationships with potential buyers and know their desires in the real estate market. This advantage, along with custom advertising and marketing, can create the exposure needed to sell quickly and for the right price.

III. Approaching a FSBO seller:

For a new agent who has recently received his or her real estate license, FSBOs may seem like the ideal place to start drumming up business. However, be cautious in your approach. Typically, newly licensed agents are so eager to convince sellers to list that they unwittingly wind up using scare tactics: flashing intimidating documents, focusing on financial risks, and warning of the dangers of letting strangers into their home. It’s important to remember that while you may truly be more clever and knowledgeable, it isn’t professional to make a seller feel less so – your job is to empower, not intimidate. Granted, holding a real estate license does make you the expert, but being a straight shooter will garner more trust. FSBO sellers are smart, and they know why you came knocking on their door. They’ll see through intimidation attempts, and you don’t want to be “just another salesperson” in their eyes.

IV. How to be a professional

1. Be straight. Give an honest evaluation of the seller’s FSBO situation, be genuine in your offer to help, and provide authentic resources. Don’t just tell them what you think they need to hear.
2. Be eager, but not overeager. Don’t overwhelm FSBO owners in your effort to convert them. Persuade, don’t coerce.
3. Be flexible. A professional understands when the old adage “always be closing” isn’t appropriate. Sometimes it’s necessary (and professional) to take no for an answer.

Background checks for the WV real estate license are here

*Edit- we have an updated article on this content now that this is old news. Here's a current article on how to navigate Identogos site along with a video walk-through.

Like it or not, we have another step when we want to get through the application process to get our West Virginia real estate license. If there weren’t enough hoops to jump through to apply to test for your WV real estate exam, you can add one more.

Why do they want a background check now?

My thoughts on why they are requiring a background check is because historically, there a lot of applicants with not so serious charges that happened a long time ago. It was a lot for the commission to weigh without any sort of real facts of what these charges were. A lot of people had DUI’s from 15 years ago, etc. This allows the WVREC to be able to let people go through the system more quickly. I don’t know exactly what standards the commission holds on these results. My guess is this is supposed to actually help people who have previous charges get through the application system more easily. The commission doesn’t have to spend months looking into it on their own.

Where are the official forms?

The physical form that you need is located here: WV Real Estate License Application Background Check Form AND you will need to make an appointment with a 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 real estate license applicants to test unless a background check is completed beforehand.

Criminal History Background Investigation
Background checks from Identogo are now mandatory

In order to get these checks underway:

1) Make an appointment with Indentogo by calling 855-766-7746 or using their website: Identego.com

2) Complete this form: WV Real Estate License Application Background Check Form and take it with you to your appointment

If you have any questions you can call the WVREC at 304-558-3555 (the WVREC are responsible for the requirement). You can also call Spruce at 304-744-1286. (*note- we are still learning what all this entails, just like you. We will try our best to answer your questions)

 

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.