Category Archives: Real Estate

Get Your 2022-2023 Law and Rule Required Course For Free

On January 1, 2022, OnlineEd launched its new 2022-2023 Oregon Law and Rule Required Course (LARRC), and you can get it for free here!

House Bill 2703, Oregon Laws 2021, Chapter 161 now requires real estate licensees renewing active licenses or reactivating licenses on or after July 1, 2022, to complete this specific version of LARRC, which includes specific fair housing content to qualify for renewal or reactivation. This means if you already completed LARRC before January 1 of this year, and your renewal is on or after July 1, 2022, you will need to complete the new LARRC that includes the required fair housing component.

Fair Housing Learning Objectives

OnlineEd’s newly-authored course includes all of the Agency’s suggested learning objectives – and there are many:

  • List the federally protected classes.
  • Describe the history of discriminatory practices by regulators and industry professionals related to restricted covenants, redlining, blockbusting, and steering that led to the creation of the Fair Housing Act.
  • Define blockbusting, redlining, steering, implicit bias, and disparate impact.
  • List Oregon’s protected classes and compare them with the federally protected classes.
  • Identify when parties are exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
  • Describe the real estate property types covered in the Fair Housing Act.
  • Explain fair housing advertising guidelines.
  • Relate under what circumstances reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications are necessary to allow persons with disabilities to enjoy their housing
  • Define the laws that govern protections from discrimination against disability at the federal level.
  • Identify prohibited actions involving the sale and rental of housing under the Fair Housing Act.
  • Discuss prohibited actions relating to mortgage lending under the Fair Housing Act
  • Cite contemporary examples of fair housing law violations that make these issues relevant today.
  • Recognize the two categories that fall under sexual harassment, quid pro quo, and hostile
  • Explain the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI) as Oregon’s governing agency that reviews complaints, regulates, and assesses civil penalties for fair housing violations.
  • Review the requirement that BOLI and the Oregon Real Estate Agency share complaint information and report findings regarding fair housing violations.
  • Explain how to submit a fair housing complaint

Other Law and Rule Required Course Required Topics

The required topics were developed from changes made to Oregon Revised Statute 696 and Oregon Administrative Rule 863 and input from the board, the Oregon Real Estate Agency staff, and other stakeholders. This year, in addition to the fair housing component, other required topics found in the OnlineEd course include:

  • Advertising rules update
  • House Bill 2550 (Client love letters)
  • House Bill 3113 (Exemptions on rent increase limits for landlords)
  • House Bill 278 (Requirement to delay termination of tenancies for nonpayment for 60 days if tenant provides documentation of application for rental assistance.
  • Senate Bill 291 (New applicant screening charges and written screening criteria rules)

This OnlineEd Oregon real estate continuing education course includes timed video presentations by Jeff Sorg and online reading materials with follow-along audio. No final exam is required for this course. A continuing education course completion certificate for Oregon Real Estate Agency license renewal will be issued after completing the course and its required seat time.

Sign up now to lock in your free course! This course counts for three hours of Oregon continuing education credit for real estate license renewal and will remain available to OnlineEd learners for 730 days after enrollment.


Oregon real estate team advertising rules

Oregon Rules for Real Estate Team Advertising

Oregon real estate team advertising rules


Teams and groups continue to be a popular way for brokers to run their businesses. By working together, brokers can pool their resources to expand their collaborative practice instead of each broker operating individually.  That is, one broker might focus on buyers and another on sellers.  The team can also hire unlicensed assistants to perform tasks that don’t require licensure, such as paperwork, scheduling, and transaction monitoring and follow-up.

However, Oregon has specific rules for real estate team advertising. These rules are found in Oregon Administrative Rule OAR 863-015-0125 (7).

In Oregon, a licensee may use the term “team” or “group” to advertise if:

  • the use of the term does not constitute the unlawful use of a trade name and is not deceptively similar to a name under which any other person is lawfully doing business;
  • the team or group includes at least one active real estate licensee;
  • the licensee members of the team or group are associated with the same principal broker;
  • the licensee member uses the licensee’s licensed name, a common derivative of the licensee’s first name and the licensee’s licensed last name, or an alternative name registered with the Oregon Real Estate Agency and includes the licensee’s license number;
  • the advertising clearly states which individuals are licensees and which are not when non-licensed individuals are named in the advertising; and
  • the advertising complies with all other applicable provisions of ORS Chapter 696 and its implementing rules.

The law requires a real estate team or group to be agents or personnel associated with the same office.  At least one individual in the team or group must be licensed.  If unlicensed members of the team or group are named in the advertising, the ad must clearly state who is licensed and who is not licensed.

“Advertising” and “advertisement” include all forms of real estate-related communication by a licensee that is designed to attract the public to the use of services related to professional real estate activity.

Types of Advertising

The Oregon Real Estate Agency includes these things as “advertising.”

  • Print, including, but not limited to mail, publications, brochures, postcards, business cards, and stationery;
  • Signs, including but not limited to lawn signs, displays, and billboards;
  • Phone, including but not limited to cell phones, text messaging, cold calling, and outgoing voicemail messaging;
  • Broadcast media, including but not limited to radio, television, podcasts, and video; and
  • Electronic media, including but not limited to multiple listing services, websites, email, social media, mobile apps, and other online marketing.
Things to remember about team advertising


Advertising Points to Remember

  • Identify yourself as a real estate license;
  • Be truthful and don’t design ads to be misleading or deceitful;
  • Advertise property only with the written permission of the property owner or their authorized agent;
  • Don’t state or imply that you are a principal broker or responsible for operating the registered business if you are a real estate broker ;
  • Don’t state or imply that you are responsible for operating the registered business if you are a principal broker but not the authorized licensee for the registered business name;
  • Don’t state or imply a qualification or level of expertise other than you currently maintain;
  • Use your licensed name, a common derivative of your first name (such as Jeff instead of Jeffrey) and your licensed last name, or an alternative name registered with the Agency and your real estate license number;
  • Include the registered business name of your company, so it is easily noticeable; and
  • Comply with all fair housing laws.

Oregon’s rule requiring the principal broker to approve all advertising was in many ways not workable and is no longer applicable. As a result, brokers are now responsible for making sure their advertising complies with the rules. However, brokerages can set company policies for advertising to help their licensees stay out of trouble.

It is important to remember that anytime you promote yourself as a real estate professional, mention a listing, or even congratulate a new homeowner on social media, you are engaged in some form of advertising, and the rules must be followed.



Get a Washington real estate license

Get a Washington Real Estate License With Online Courses

To get a Washington real estate license, you must apply with the Washington Department of Licensing and be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, pass the OnlineEd 60-hour real estate fundamentals course, pass the OnlineEd 30-hour real estate practices course, pass a Washington state licensing examination, and pass a background check.  Anyone who acts on behalf of a real estate firm to perform real estate brokerage services under the supervision of a managing broker needs a real estate license.

Study for your real estate license anywhere an internet connection is available

© Can Stock Photo / LightFieldStudios

You can immediately shop for state-required pre-license education and start learning about real estate. With OnlineEd courses, you can literally start todayApplicants will need to register at PSI’s Portals page after starting but before completing their education. Follow the registration instructions on the site. It will only take a few minutes. This registration begins your education record with the state of Washington. It is NOT a real estate license application. You will apply for a license after your education and testing are complete.

To be approved to offer courses, OnlineEd and its instructors completed Washington’s rigorous licensing process. All real estate courses and our state-of-the-art delivery systems were also reviewed and approved.

The Courses

© Can Stock Photo / pruden

Approved by the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) to meet the educational requirement to obtain an entry-level Washington real estate broker license, the OnlineEd course package is delivered online. It includes instructor availability to answer questions about course content and concepts. This special Washington real estate broker pre-license training course package includes online courses, instructor support, state licensing exam prep course, and course completion certificates.

Washington Real Estate Fundamentals

Washington Real Estate Fundamentals is the first course. It is a required 60-hour course and instructs students on the basic fundamentals of real estate. Topics include real property descriptions, titles, estates, contract law, real estate financing, federal and state laws, and real estate architectural design.

Washington Real Estate Practices

© Can Stock Photo/ProImageContent

The second course, Washington Real Estate Practices, is the required follow-up course to Fundamentals. It’s a 30-hour course that discusses agency relationship types, how to work with buyers and sellers, and describes a real estate transaction from the offer to closing escrow.

You must pass both the state and national exams within 6 months of each other or retake both exams. Approvals are good until your education expires, 2 years from the date you complete the oldest exam. You must apply for your license within 1 year of passing the exams.

Washington Pre-License Exam Prep

OnlineEd online Washington real estate courses

© Can Stock Photo / LightFieldStudios

Washington Pre-License Exam Prep isn’t a required course, but it is the third part of the course package. Exam Prep is a cram course intended to help students retain information learned from the online courses to assist in passing the state licensing exam. Each chapter lists important topics to remember and includes study tests covering national and Washington-specific topics. This exam prep course also includes a practice licensing exam of 130 questions with a time limit of 3.5 hours to simulate the actual state broker licensing exam.

Learn More or Enroll Online

The courses are delivered online through a web browser but also include downloadable PDF and ePub versions. For study away from the computer and learning reinforcement, softbound, printed textbooks are also available for a modest additional cost.

Click here to learn more about the OnlineEd Washington real estate broker pre-license courses.

Click here to learn more about licensing through the Washington Department of Licensing.


appraiser independence

Understanding Appraiser Independence Requirements

Appraiser Independence Requirements - Continuing Education course from OnlineEd

(C) CanStockPhoto

The appraisal is a critical part of the financing process for the borrower and the lender, but not every real estate broker understands appraiser independence requirements.

After the buyer’s credit and debt to income ratios are reviewed, and the home passes inspection, the lender will order an appraisal to determine if the property has sufficient value to collateralize the buyer’s loan. To confirm the collateral is sufficient in the event of a buyer default, the lender chooses an appraiser to give a professional and impartial opinion of value. This opinion of value is given by way of an appraisal report.

The appraiser must understand the appraisal assignment, be familiar with the property’s area, and begin the assignment by entering into an agreement for appraisal valuation services with the lender. During the process, the appraiser makes an in-person inspection of the property to confirm its features, such as square feet, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, other rooms, and the property’s overall condition from a visual perspective.

The appraiser’s opinion of value is based on research similar to what real estate agents do for a Comparative Market Analysis or a Broker Price Opinion. These reports provide information on recent sales and listings of comparable properties in the same market area as the home being purchased. The final appraisal report for the lender uses data gathered during the on-site inspection and from researching the comparables.

Why It’s Important to Understand Appraiser Independence

Since the appraiser protects the borrower’s and lender’s interests by ensuring that the subject property is accurately evaluated, understanding the appraiser’s role is critical to the real estate transaction. Compromising the appraiser’s independence can adversely affect the quality of the appraisal report. When quality is compromised, it can increase the risk for both the lender and the borrower.

What to Know About Appraiser Independence

Appraiser Independence requirements are outlined by various federal regulations, agencies, and published guidance. Some of these rules include:

  • Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)

    Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) created a system to oversee state licensing and certification of appraisers. Numerous councils, subcommittees, and boards collaborated to develop and amend the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) standards for professional appraisals. There must be compliance with USPAP to be certified or licensed as an appraiser.

  • Truth in Lending Act (TILA), rules for appraisers

    Real estate and mortgage professionals practicing in 2010 are likely familiar with the events leading to the Dodd-Frank Act, the ongoing requirements that have stemmed from the act and have become a regular part of life since the act became effective. Many may have forgotten that the appraiser independence requirements laid out in TILA were based on a short-lived set of appraisal rules called the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). These rules were developed by the New York Attorney General, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. The rules were designed to remove parties with a financial interest in a mortgage transaction from selecting the appraiser and ensure that appraisers were not adversely coerced into inaccurately making appraisal valuations. In 2010, the HVCC was superseded by similar provisions included in the Dodd-Frank Act, which amended Regulation Z to include appraisal independence requirements. The appraisal independence rules in Reg. Z can be found in 12 CFR §1026.42 – Valuation Independence.

  • Agency Guidelines

    Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA have all published appraisal independence requirements and guidelines.

Where to Learn About Appraiser Independence

Because the real estate appraisal is a critical part of the financing process for the borrower, their lender, and the real estate transaction, OnlineEd developed a 1-hour Oregon course for real estate licensee renewal to explain appraiser independence rules. The course explains differences between appraisals and broker price opinions, helps real estate brokers understand the definitions used in appraisals, explains actions that could adversely influence an appraiser’s value conclusion, and explains some exceptions that would allow a follow-up appraisal.

The course cost is just $6, and we’re pretty sure you will learn something much more valuable! For more information about this exclusive Oregon offering, please visit:

What is a Preliminary Title Report?

The preliminary title report reports the condition of title for a specific piece of real estate. It is a preliminary commitment by the title company for title insurance. The “final” title report is issued soon after closing. The real estate purchase agreement (RPA) usually includes the instruction for escrow to order the preliminary title report. The ordering happens as soon as the buyer or seller or their real estate brokers open escrow. The preliminary report includes information about the property that the buyer should know, such as current title vesting, easements, loans, and other encumbrances against the property.

Who compiles the preliminary title report?

The person who compiles the report is known as a title examiner. The examiner issues the preliminary report based on their findings from researching the title through every record available for the property. Chain of title means the sequence of historical transfers of title to a property; each sale or transfer is a “link” in the chain. The title examiner makes sure all the links are present. When one of the links is missing, it is a “break in the chain of title.” For example, there is a period with no recorded owner preceding the current owner because a prior deed wasn’t recorded. This search determines if the person selling the property has legal ownership.

The portion of the report detailing the history of property ownership is an abstract of title. In the report, the general heading of Title Search includes the search for existing encumbrances. Abstract of title is a detailed history of property ownership; title search is a detailed listing of encumbrances. The abstract and search are compiled into and become the preliminary title report.

How do they do a title search?

  • A title company examiner searches the records of the county recorder, county assessor, and governmental taxing agencies that may affect title.
  • Some title companies have their own records department, known as a title plant. They keep duplicates of recorded documents from offices and courts at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels.
  • A title examiner has four primary determinations:
  1. The exact description of the property
  2. The estate interest in the property
  3. The vesting of the estate interest
  4. The exceptions affecting the vested interest, such as liens, encumbrances, and miscellaneous defects

The title search and subsequent preliminary title report reveal the following:

  • The vested owner’s name, as disclosed in the public records
  • Current real estate property taxes, including whether they are paid or unpaid, and the date of the last property assessment
  • Outstanding liens, encumbrances, covenants, conditions, restrictions, and easements
  • A plat map of the subject property that shows the location and dimensions of the property

The preliminary title report also lists the items the escrow agent needs to remove from the report to transfer title to the buyer, clear of the ones the buyer did not agree to assume in the RPA.  A “clear title” is free from liens and other encumbrances that might put the new owner’s ownership in jeopardy.  With a clear title, ownership is not in question.

Who gets the preliminary title report?

Copies of the preliminary title report are sent to the buyer, seller, lender, and real estate brokers for review and evaluation. Buyers and sellers, and their brokers, should review the report for items that might adversely affect the sale or the buyer’s intended use of the property. It is also essential to verify that the title report has the correct property address and escrow company file number. Only the items listed as of the date on the report are included in the preliminary report. Items discovered after the issuance of the preliminary report are delivered in a supplementary report. When there are references items like Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”)  and easements recorded against the property, the buyer should request copies of these documents from their escrow officer or title examiner, as listed on the report’s cover page.

Most RPAs include a contingency allowing the buyer an opportunity to review the report and object when there are items that interfere with the buyer’s intended use of the property. For example, if the buyer is buying a large lot and intends to store an RV, but the CC&Rs prohibit RV parking, the buyer could object to the report and terminate the transaction. Likewise, when undisclosed easements or rights-of-way are listed. The title report will also include a plat map of the property. Property dimensions on this map should not be considered conclusive but should be questioned by the buyer when differing from those represented by the seller.  If there are questions about actual boundary lines, the buyer should order a property survey.

What should you do with the preliminary title report?

In summary, always read the title report and its attachments. If there are questions, the buyer should contact their escrow agent or title examiner for clarification, or enlist the help of a lawyer. Real estate brokers are not qualified or allowed to give advice on title matters or interpret title reports. Still, they should be able to direct their buyer’s attention to matters of concern for further investigation.

On presenting multiple offers

Five Ways for Presenting Multiple Offers

Presenting multiple offers can be stressful for buyers and sellers and their real estate brokers. For listing brokers, offers should not be presented with favoritism or in any way designed to manipulate the seller into accepting one offer over another. The best practice is to present all offers before discussing which offer is best for the seller.

REALTOR® Code of Ethics, Standard of Practice 1-7: When acting as listing brokers, REALTORS® shall continue to submit to the seller all offers and counter-offers until closing unless the seller has waived this obligation in writing.

Listing brokers are to get the highest price and most favorable terms for their clients. Buyer brokers are to help get their clients to purchase the property at the lowest possible price and terms favorable to the buyer. Regardless of these competing dynamics, the real estate broker cannot make disclosures that are not in the client’s best interest and must always act honestly toward all parties.

REALTORS® shall submit offers and counter-offers objectively and as quickly as possible.” (Standard of Practice 1-6)

Here are five different ways for a seller and their broker to deal with multiple offers:

  1. Inform all buyers that other offers exist and to deliver their “highest and best” offer
  2. Inform all buyers that multiple offers will be all be presented on a specific date and time
  3. Present offers as they come in and counter them one at a time while making the other offers wait for the outcome
  4. Present all offers, counter one offer and reject all other offers
  5. Accept the best offer and reject all other offers

Always check with the seller before disclosing the existence of other offers. If the seller agrees to disclose other offers to one buyer, the disclosure should be given to all buyers since you, as a REALTOR, have a duty to practice fairness with all parties.

Remember, the listing broker must present all offers unless told otherwise by the seller. And, it is not up to the broker to decide how to present multiple offers or which to accept; it is up to the seller.

1031 Tax Deferred Exchange

Benefits of the 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange

When Section 1031 tax deferred exchange requirements are met, the real estate transaction will qualify for deferral of capital gain taxation

When a taxpayer sells a business or investment property, there might be a financial gain resulting in income taxes. The Internal Revenue Code in Section 1031 (IRC Section 1031) provides an exception that allows postponing the payment of the tax owed on the gain if the proceeds are reinvested in like-kind property. This gain is deferred; it is not tax-free. IRC Section 1031 is more commonly known as the 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange.

The like-kind exchange can include like-kind property exclusively, or it can include like-kind property with cash, liabilities, and unlike property. When cash, relief from debt, or property that is not like-kind is received, this can trigger some taxable gain in the tax year of the exchange. When an exchanger exchanges for like-kind property of lesser value, the transaction can include deferred and recognized gains, those that must be paid, for the amount not reinvested.

When Section 1031 requirements are met, the real estate transaction will qualify for deferral of capital gain taxation until the substitute property received in exchange is finally sold outright unless exchanged for another like-kind property. There isn’t any limit on the number of 1031 exchanges a taxpayer can perform. Other names for the like-kind exchange are 1031 Exchange, an IRC Section 1031 Exchange, a Like-Kind Exchange, a Tax Deferred Exchange, and Starker Exchange.

(Watch this OnlineEd video that summarizes the main points and benefits of the tax-deferred Exchange)

Section 1031 Vocabulary

  • Relinquished Property – the property in an exchange that is being given up for the new property; the sold property.
  • Replacement Property – the property in an exchange that gets traded for the old property; the purchased property.
  • Exchanger – The party who is performing the tax-deferred exchange.
  • Boot – The portion of a tax-deferred exchange that is taxable.

Type and Character of Property

To qualify as a tax-deferred exchange, the relinquished property must be of the same kind of property as the replacement property. This same kind of property is called like-kind property. Like-kind refers to how the property is held by the investor, not by the type or character of the property. Property that does not qualify as like-kind property that is part of an exchange is called boot or taxable boot. The exchanger (the investor) must have held the relinquished property for investment or for productive use in their trade or business and intend to do the same with the replacement property at the time the exchange is made.

Examples of Like-Kind Property

  • Residential for a bank building
  • Swampland for an apartment building
  • Bare land for a rental house
  • Single-family rental for multi-family rental
  • Non-income producing for income-producing
  • Duplex for a grocery store the exchanger intends to operate

Examples of Unlike Property

  • Personal use real property
  • Cash
  • Dealer property such as inventory
  • Paper (notes, mortgages, trust deeds, and land sale contracts)

Remember, when Section 1031 requirements are met, the real estate transaction will qualify for deferral of capital gain taxation; the transaction is not tax-free. For more information about this subject, visit the Beutler Exchange Resource Library or your qualified tax professional. This article is not intended as tax advice.

Handing out a business card

How To Tips for Business Card Etiquette

“It’s nice to meet you! May I give you my business card?”

Knowing the proper way to treat and hand out your business card says a lot about you, the respect you have for yourself, and the person you are giving it to. Always be courteous and ask permission before giving out your business card, and only give it to someone who asks for it or after you ask permission to give it.

How to offer a business card

  • Always have cards on hand. Card exchanges and business socializing often take place at unlikely times and places.
  • Be courteous when offering your card and attempt to limit distribution to qualified leads. Handing out 200 cards to everyone at a trade show will not be as productive as taking the time to find 10 qualified leads at the same seminar.
  • Always give your card to someone who asks for it — and be sure to ask for theirs in return.
  • Hand out pristine cards. Your card should adequately represent who you are and the pride you take in your profession. Throw away old, torn, or worn-out cards.
  • Use a business card case that properly represents your professionalism. Keeping your cards in your billfold or floating around in your purse makes for a disorganized impression. It also gives the message that you don’t really take the business card exchange ritual seriously.
  • If appropriate, take the time to write a quick note on the card to help the recipient remember you, what you talked about, and why your card was given.
  • Don’t hand out more than one card per contact unless more is asked for. If the person you are giving the card to does not have a card of their own, offer two of your cards and ask them to write their contact information on the backside of one and then return the card to you.
  • In meetings, don’t slide your card across the conference table. Instead, stand up and hand your card to each individual as introductions are made.
  • If you offer one person a card in a group, offer your card to everyone in the group.

How to accept a business card

  • Always accept an offered business card.
  • If you give a card, ask for a card.
  • Say Thank You! as soon the card touches your hand.
  • Look at the card for a few seconds as if digesting the information and then compliment the card, font, or logo, if appropriate.
  • Put the card in your business card case. Don’t disrespect the card or giver by putting it in your back pocket or other places that say you don’t really care it was given.
  • Follow up within one or two days from receiving a business card. Let the giver know you appreciated meeting them, your conversation, or information exchange.
  • It’s okay to request a business card, but if the person you are requesting it from maintains a higher position than you, wait for them to offer a card. For example, you wouldn’t ask the CEO of major companies or politicians, such as your state senator or the President of the United States, for a personal business card.f

How to design a business card

  • Avoid having too much information on your business card; don’t clutter it up with too many trade or professional designations that won’t mean anything to the public.*
  • Use professional paper and printing.
  • Use a graphic designer or online business card templates to help you design your card.
  • Include your essential contact details, including your name, company name, email address, and telephone number.
  • Avoid trade designation initials that might confuse your prospects. ABR, SFR, GRI mean nothing to a potential real estate client.*
  • Make sure your colors, font, and other information are easily readable by business card scanners or when converted to other types of electronic format.

* Design separate cards for giving out to your associates. These cards should include your trade or professional designations or designation initials.

Your business card will maximize your chances of successfully making qualified contacts. Remember, your card should represent you as a professional and convey how you think about yourself and conduct business. Don’t skimp and keep it professional.


OnlineEd is a provider of pre-licensing, post-licensing, and continuing education for real estate and mortgage brokers. For more information about OnlineEd, please visit

Differences Between Mortgage Prequalification Letter and Preapproval Letter

Typically, when the buyer uses financing to purchase a house, the buyer will get evidence from their lender to show the seller they do indeed qualify for that financing. This evidence will take the form of either a lender prequalification letter or a preapproval letter. The letter is given with the buyer’s offer to the seller in hopes that the seller’s acceptance of the offer is not delayed by checking the buyer’s financial status. While the prequalification and preapproval letters may sound similar, they are not. Let’s look at how these two letters differ and why a seller might insist on one over the other.

Lender Prequalification Letter

With a prequalification letter, the lender relies on information provided only from the buyer, such as income, credit score, debt and assets. A lender usually obtains this information in a telephone interview or by the buyer providing general information on the lender’s website. The lender or software then returns an estimate of how much mortgage a buyer can afford. However, a preapproval is only an estimate of what the buyer can afford, provided everything they have told the lender is true. In short, a prequalification letter won’t mean much to a seller since it relies on unverified information given by the buyer in exchange for the letter.

Lender Preapproval Letter

A preapproval letter is when the lender verifies the borrower’s information and reviews supporting documentation to determine how much they are willing to lend to that borrower. The lender’s required documents for their preapproval letter are the same as needed when applying for a mortgage. These documents include pay stubs, W-2s, federal tax returns, bank and other financial account statements, and a credit report. Because it is based on verified information, the preapproval letter is by far the better choice for the seller when analyzing the financial ability of a would-be buyer.

Note: A preapproval is not an approval or loan commitment. Preapproval does, however, speed up the loan underwriting and approval processes. Preapproval also gives the seller a reasonable assurance that the buyer can get financing and close the transaction. When choosing between similar offers, most sellers will prefer the preapproved buyer.

Prequalification is the easiest way for a buyer to estimate how much home they can afford. Preapproval is better than the prequalification estimate because it verifies the buyer’s financial information. Buyers who are serious about their house hunting should contact a qualified mortgage professional to find out how much they can afford, and so sellers will take them seriously when they make an offer.

technology and the realtor

2020 Saw Highest Number of Home Sales Since 2006 Says REALTOR® Annual Survey

Realtors® cited a lack of inventory as the leading reason limiting potential clients from completing a transaction, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) 2021 Member Profile, an annual report analyzing members’ business activity and demographics from the prior year. However, in spite of a global pandemic, its drastic impacts on how business was conducted, and a dwindling housing supply, 2020 saw the highest number of homes sold since 2006 (5.64 million) and NAR’s membership increased from the previous year (1.48 million at the end of 2020, up from 1.4 million at the end of 2019).

“Realtors® continued to serve clients’ needs despite the challenges 2020 brought to the real estate market,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “Economic lockdowns and historically-low inventory coupled with surging home buying demand only showed the resilience of our members and industry.”

Key Survey Takeaways

real estate business

(c) Can Stock Photo / ferli

Business Characteristics

The majority of Realtors® – 68% – hold sales agent licenses, which is up from 65% last year. Twenty percent hold broker licenses and 13% hold broker associate licenses. Seventy-three percent of members specialize in residential brokerage. Relocation, residential property management and commercial brokerage are members’ most common secondary specialty areas.

Members typically have eight years of real estate experience, down from nine years in 2019. Eighteen percent of those surveyed have one year or less experience – nearly identical to 17% last year – while 15% of Realtors® have more than 25 years of experience, down from 17% a year ago. Appraisers, broker-owners, and managers had the most experience, while sales agents were typically the newest to the field with five years of experience. Consistent with recent surveys, nearly four out of five members – 79% – were certain they’ll remain in the real estate industry for at least two more years.

Business Activity

The typical member had a slightly lower sales volume ($2.1 million vs. $2.3 million) and fewer transactions (10 vs. 12) in 2020 compared to 2019.

The typical Realtor® earned 15% of their business from previous clients and customers, unchanged from last year. The most experienced members – those with 16 or more years of experience – reported a greater share of repeat business from clients or referrals (a median of 37%), compared to no repeat business for those with two years of experience or less. Overall, Realtors® earned a median of 19% of their business from referrals, a slight drop from 20% in 2019. Referrals were also more common among members with more experience, with a median of 27% for those with 16 or more years of experience compared to no referrals for those with two years of experience or less.

Income and Expenses

The median gross income for Realtors® was $43,330 in 2020, down from $49,700 in 2019. Realtors® with 16 years or more experience had a median gross income of $75,000, a decrease from $86,500 last year, as income was typically commensurate with experience. One out of four Realtors® earned $100,000 or more. Total median business expenses for members were $5,330 in 2020, a decline from $6,290 in 2019.

Realtor demographics

(c) Can Stock Photo

Demographic Characteristics

Seventy-eight percent of Realtors® were White, down slightly from 80% last year. Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 9% of Realtors®, followed by Black/African Americans (7%) and Asian/Pacific Islanders (6%). New members tended to be more diverse than experienced members. Among those who had two years or less of experience, 34% were minorities.

Sixty-five percent of Realtors® were women, a minor increase from 64% last year. The median age of Realtors® was 54, down slightly from 55 last year. A third of members were over 60 years old and 5% were age 30 or younger.

More than nine in 10 members – 93% – had some post-secondary education, with a third completing a bachelor’s degree, 6% having some graduate school education, and 13% completing a graduate degree.

The marital status of Realtors® remained nearly unchanged from 2019. Sixty-nine percent of Realtors® were married, 15% were divorced, and 11% were single or never married. The typical Realtor® household had two adults and no children.

Two-thirds of members – 66% – reported volunteering in their community. Volunteering was most common among members aged 40 to 49 years.

“Realtors® come from all walks of life and serve as pillars in their respective communities,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “As champions for consumers, Realtors® combine hard work, dedication and trusted expertise to help individuals and families achieve the dream of property ownership.”

technology and the realtor

(c) Can Stock Photo

Technology and Realtors®

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses of all types to rely heavily on technology for communicating with consumers and remaining competitive in the marketplace. On a daily basis, the strong majority of Realtors® use a smartphone with wireless email and internet capability (96%) and a laptop or desktop computer (92%). The smartphone features that members use most frequently on a daily basis are email (95%) and social media apps (57%). Text messaging (93%) is the top method of communication for members with their clients, followed by phone calls (90%) and email (89%). Nearly seven in 10 members – 69% – have their own website.

“Realtors® used emerging technologies in 2020 to bridge the gap when pandemic precautions were in place,” Lautz said. “Members have now pivoted and embraced these tools to showcase listings and help buyers strategically find and secure the limited number of properties available.”


© Can Stock Photo / EyeMark

Office and Firm Affiliation

Despite an ever-changing housing market, Realtor® office and firm affiliation remained stable compared to a year ago. A slight majority of Realtors® – 53% – worked with an independent company and 88% were independent contractors at their firms. Forty-two percent of members worked at a firm with one office and 26% worked at a firm with two to four offices. The typical Realtor® had a median tenure of five years with their current firm, up from a median of four years in 2019. Eight percent of members reported working for a firm that was bought or merged. Errors and omissions insurance is the most common benefit provided by members’ firms.

Survey Methodology

In March 2021, NAR emailed a 93-question survey to a random sample of 161,155 Realtors®. Using this method, a total of 10,643 responses were received. The survey had an adjusted response rate of 6.6%. The confidence interval at a 95% level of confidence is +/- 0.95% based on a population of 1.4 million members. Survey responses were weighted to be representative of state level NAR membership. Information about compensation, earnings, sales volume and number of transactions are characteristics of calendar year 2020, while all other data are representative of member characteristics in early 2021.

For more information from NAR’s 2021 Member Profile, visit

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

[Source: NAR’s 2021 Member Profile, visit]



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