Real estate tips - interviewing listing agents w/ Jim Klinge

The Hypo Real Estate

The Hypo Real Estate Holding AG is a holding company based in Munich, Germany which comprises a number of real estate financing banks. The company's activities span three sectors of the real estate market: commercial property, infrastructure and public finance, and capital markets and asset management. Hypo Real Estate is the second largest commercial property lender in Germany.

The bank originated in 2003 from the real estate financing business of HypoVereinsbank. It employs about 2,000 people and was one of the 30 members of the DAX stock index of the largest German companies between December 2005 and December 2008, before the shares were demoted to the MDAX. Its shares were further demoted to the SDAX in September 2009. In 2007 it acquired public finance company Depfa Bank. The company remains a legal entity as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hypo Real Estate Group.

The firm was bailed out by the Bundesbank and other German banks in October 2008 in the midst of the global financial crisis, before approving a complete nationalisation a year later.

OREA Guidelines for Access to Public Records

OREA Guidelines for Access to Public Records

  • The Office of Real Estate Appraisers ("Office") will provide to any requesting person or agency timely access to all records not specifically exempt from disclosure or release under the provisions of the Public Records Act (Gov. Code, section 6254 et seq.) or that are otherwise not exempt from disclosure or release under state or federal law. The Office may refuse to disclose records that are exempt from disclosure.
  • Records are available for inspection upon reasonable notice during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at:

    1102 Q Street, Suite 4100
    Sacramento, CA 95811
    (916) 440-7876

  • In order to preserve the integrity of the requested records against theft, mutilation, or accidental damage, and to insure that requests for public inspection do not interfere with the orderly functions of the Office, any person requesting to inspect or obtain copies of public records must comply with the following guidelines:
    1. Requests for non-confidential information may be made in writing to the address above. They may also be made via fax or email, or orally by telephone or personal communication. The Office encourages written requests;
    2. Requests shall include a concise statement specifically describing the records sought and, if known, the form in which the records are maintained whether in electronic of other format. If a request is not specific, staff of the Office shall assist requestors in identifying the information requested and the format in which such information is maintained by the Office;
    3. Office functions shall not be suspended to permit, nor shall public records be made available for, inspection during periods when use of such records is reasonably required by Office personnel in the performance of their duties;
    4. Records may only be reviewed under the supervision of Office staff. Records will not be provided for inspection outside the Office.
  • The Office may, in the discretion of the Director, charge any person of agency requesting inspection of records a reasonable fee for retrieval of records stored or maintained outside the Office. The fee shall not exceed the cost incurred by the Office in retrieving the requested information.
  • Copies of requested information will be provided upon prepayment of copying costs of $.10 per page.
  • A copy of these guidelines shall be posted in a conspicuous place open to the public within the Office, and a copy shall be made available free of charge to any person requesting such.

Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons

Licensed real estate brokers and salespersons assist consumers wishing to purchase, sell, lease or exchange real property. This assistance encompasses a host of services including appraising property for basic valuations, negotiating purchase, sale or lease agreements, maintaining escrow accounts and advertising.

The Real Estate Board licenses only those candidates who meet the statutory and regulatory requirements for real estate brokers and salespersons. In carrying out its mission, the Board regulates real estate schools and agent curriculum and contracts with a testing vendor to provide the agent examination. Of equal importance, the Board seeks to protect consumers by exercising its authority to discipline those real estate agents who violate licensing laws and regulations.

The Real Estate and Business Agents

The Real Estate and Business Agents Supervisory Board is the independent statutory authority established under the Real Estate and Business Agents Act 1978 to regulate people who conduct real estate transactions and certain business transactions.

The Board is responsible to the Minister for Commerce, and has the following functions under the Act:

  • administer the licensing system for real estate and business agents and the registration system for sales representatives;
  • conduct and promote education and provide advisory services;
  • conduct investigations into allegations about real estate agents and sales representatives;
  • provide conciliation services to consumers and agents in dispute;
  • administer the Fidelity Guarantee Account, which reimburses people for financial loss due to the criminal or fraudulent behaviour of an agent or sales representative;
  • administer the Homebuyers Assistance Account, which provides first homebuyers with financial assistance;
  • advise the Minister for Commerce on the administration of the Act; and
  • recommend amendments to the Regulations and the Act.
The Board is fully funded through the interest paid on the balance of money held in the trust accounts of agents, licence and certificate fees, and interest on investments held in Treasury. Funding is used to provide services to the industry and public in five major areas:
  • Licensing
    • Involves the quality control of people seeking to enter the real estate and business broking industries and those already registered or licensed in those industries.
  • Compliance
    • Ensures that licensed real estate and business agents and their representatives comply with the relevant legislation and financial reporting requirements.
  • Education and Awareness
    • Aims to encourage awareness of real estate "best practice" through activities such as proactive visits, seminars and publications.
  • Fidelity Guarantee Account
    • Centres on the assessment of claims for reimbursement from consumers who have suffered financial loss during a real estate transaction due to the criminal or fraudulent conduct of a licensed real estate and business agent or their sales representative.
  • Home Buyers Assistance Account
    • Works to ensure that people who lodge a claim against the Fund satisfy the necessary requirements and receive funding in a timely manner.

Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate

Appraisers and assessors of real estate estimate the value of property for a variety of purposes, such as to assess property tax, to confirm adequate collateral for mortgages, to confirm or help set a good sales price, to settle an estate, or to aid in a divorce settlement. They often specialize in appraising or assessing a certain type of real estate such as residential buildings or commercial properties. However, they may be called on to estimate the value of any type of real estate, ranging from farmland to a major shopping center. Assessors estimate the value of all properties in a locality for property tax purposes whereas appraisers appraise properties one at a time.

Valuations of all types of real property are conducted using similar methods, regardless of the type of property or who employs the appraiser or assessor. Appraisers and assessors work in localities they are familiar with so they have knowledge of any environmental or other concerns that may affect the value of a property. They note any unique characteristics of the property and of the surrounding area, such as a specific architectural style of a building or a major highway located next to the parcel. They also take into account additional aspects of a property like the condition of the foundation and roof of a building or any renovations that may have been done. Additionally, they may take pictures to document a certain room or feature, in addition to taking pictures of the exterior of the building. After visiting the property, the appraiser or assessor will estimate the fair value of the property by taking into consideration such things as comparable home sales, lease records, location, view, previous appraisals, and income potential.

Appraisers and assessors write detailed reports on their research and observations, stating the value of the parcel as well as the precise reasoning and methodology of how they arrived at the estimate. Writing reports has become faster and easier through the use of laptop computers, allowing them to access data and write at least some of the report on-site. Another computer technology that has affected this occupation is the electronic map of a given jurisdiction and its respective property distribution. Appraisers and assessors use these maps to obtain an accurate perspective on the property and buildings surrounding a property. Digital photos also are commonly used to document the physical appearance of a building or land at the time of appraisal.

Appraisers have independent clients and focus solely on valuing one property at a time. They primarily work on a client-to-client basis, and make appraisals for a variety of reasons. Real property appraisers often specialize by the type of real estate they appraise, such as residential properties, golf courses, or strip malls. In general, commercial appraisers have the ability to appraise any real property but may specialize only in property used for commercial purposes, such as stores or hotels. Residential appraisers focus on appraising homes or other residences and only value those that house 1 to 4 families. Other appraisers have a general practice and value any type of real property.

Assessors predominately work for local governments and are responsible for valuing properties for property tax assessment purposes. Most senior assessors are appointed or elected to their position. Unlike appraisers, assessors often value entire neighborhoods using mass appraisal techniques to value all the homes in a local neighborhood at one time. Although they do not usually focus on a single property they may assess a single property if the property owner challenges the assessment. They may use a computer-programmed automated valuation model specifically developed for their assigned jurisdictions. In most jurisdictions the entire community must be revalued annually or every few years. Depending on the size of the jurisdiction and the number of staff in an assessor’s office, an appraisal firm, often called a revaluation firm, may do much of the work of valuing the properties in the jurisdiction. These results are then officially certified by the assessor.

When properties are reassessed, assessors issue notices of assessments and taxes that each property owner must pay. Assessors must be current on tax assessment procedures and must be able to defend the accuracy of their property assessments, either to the owner directly or at a public hearing, since assessors also are responsible for dealing with tax payers who want to contest their assigned property taxes. Assessors also keep a database of every parcel in their jurisdiction labeling the property owner, issued tax assessment, and size of the property, as well as property maps of the jurisdiction that detail the property distribution of the jurisdiction.

Work environment. Appraisers and assessors spend much of their time researching and writing reports. However, with the advancement of computers and other technologies, such as wireless Internet, time spent in the office has decreased as research can now be done in less time or on-site or at home. Records that once required a visit to a courthouse or city hall often can be found online. This has especially affected self-employed appraisers, often called independent fee appraisers, who make their own office hours, allowing them to spend much more time on-site doing research and less time in their office. Time spent on-site versus in the office also depends on the specialty. For example, residential appraisers tend to spend less time on office work than commercial appraisers, who could spend up to several weeks at one site analyzing documents and writing reports. Appraisers who work for private institutions generally spend most of their time inside the office, making on-site visits when necessary. Appraisers and assessors usually conduct on-site appraisal work alone.

Independent fee appraisers tend to work more than a standard 40 hour work week, in addition to working evenings and weekends writing reports. On-site visits usually occur during daylight hours, and according to the client’s schedule. Assessors and privately employed appraisers, on the other hand, usually work a standard 40-hour work week. Occasionally they work an evening or Saturday, to speak with a concerned tax payer, for example. More than 10 percent of appraisers and assessors worked part time in 2006.

Most independent fee appraisers’ offices are relatively small, consisting of either just themselves or a small staff. However, private institutions such as banks and mortgage broker offices may employ several appraisers in one office. The size of the office employing assessors depends on the size of the local government; in some States assessments are by counties whereas in other States assessments are made by municipalities or other local governments. Therefore a county assessor’s office probably would employ more assessors than a small town, which may only employ a single assessor.

Real Estate Vultures

Choosing Real Estate-Related Services

Buying a home is a big financial commitment — very likely, the biggest financial investment most people make. If you choose to work with a real estate professional, finding someone who understands what you are looking for and how much you can afford to spend is critical. Ask friends, family members, neighbors, or co-workers who have bought or sold recently for recommendations. Interview several agents about their experience, style, and market knowledge. Expect an agent to be professional: to return your phone calls promptly, to be organized, to listen to your preferences, and to communicate clearly. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
  • How many homes have you sold in the past year? How many in the neighborhood I’m interested in?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Are you willing to represent only my interests? Do you have any obligations to the seller?
  • What is the commission you are interested in? Are you willing to negotiate that? Will you accept a lower commission?
  • How many homes are you prepared to show me? Where will you look for these?
  • Will you show me homes that offer lower commission rates? Homes offered by non-traditional brokers? Homes that are For Sale By Owner?

Once you sign your purchase agreement, your agent may recommend companies for financing, inspections, moving, insurance, and other related services. It may be convenient for you to use these providers, but it isn’t required. Shopping for these services is just like shopping for any services: Compare prices and ask for references before you make your choices.

Real Property Issues

According to the GAO report, federal real property is a high-risk area for several reasons:

  • Several agencies have long-standing excess and underutilized real property, deteriorating facilities, unreliable real property data, and costly space challenges
  • Real property mismanagement has multi-billion dollar cost implications and can jeopardize mission accomplishment
  • Federal agencies face challenges securing real property due to the threat of terrorism. asdf

Recommended Solutions

GAO's report recommends the following:

Develop a comprehensive and integrated real property transformation strategy that:

  • Identifies how best to realign and rationalize federal real property and dispose of unneeded assets
    • Addresses significant real property repair and restoration needs
    • Develops reliable, useful real property data
    • Resolve the problem of heavy reliance on costly leasing
    • Minimizes the impact of terrorism on real property
  • Assemble an independent commission or task force to develop the real property transformation strategy and enact legislative action to address long-standing challenges

Real Property Initiatives to Address GAO Recommendations

Executive Order 13327 is one effort currently underway to successfully address some of GAO's recommendations. The Order establishes a Federal Real Property Council (FRPC) in the Office of Management and Budget. The Council of Senior Real Property Officers are developing guidance for and working with landholding agencies to prepare and implement asset management plans.

Real Estate Investing-How To Buy Property From The Government(Real Estate Investment Tips)

Real (Estate) Opinions: Men vs. Women

Real Estate Licensee information and potential for misuse

To protect the citizens of Michigan from individuals who claim to hold a license in a particular field, the State of Michigan has provided a means for the general public to be able to verify whether or not a person is properly licensed in an occupation. The Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth provides the "Check A License" link for that purpose.

While this tool provides a great service to the public, in rare instances, the information provided can be abused. DELEG's Bureau of Commercial Services' Licensing Division was recently contacted by a licensee who reported that her license number was used to gain the access code to a lock box on a listed property. When the licensee received an e-mail confirming her appointment, she immediately called the listing broker's office to inform them that she had not made the appointment.

This type of incident emphasizes the importance of having proper procedures in place for dispensing sensitive information such as this. To protect yourself and your customers and clients, we encourage you to adhere to methods to ensure unauthorized individuals are not given restricted information. Providing information without first ascertaining that the individuals are who they claim to be is a questionable and potentially dangerous practice.

A proven method suggests that you send an e-mail to confirm the appointment, by which the lock box information is sent, or calling the nonpublic-published phone number for the licensee. Whatever means your office has in place, it's important that your entire staff is aware of and abides by it. Remember that real estate rules require that each broker's office have in place written policies and procedures for all licensees. Including a strengthened office practice detailing what is expected in this area will protect everyone. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Laws & Regulations For Real Estate Activities

Here are some of the laws and regulations relating to real estate activities. If you need help with legal matters, you should seek professional legal advice.

Building Construction, Development & Maintenance
Commercial & Residential Property
Land Development, Planning & Titles
Property Tax & Stamp Duty
Finding Laws & Regulations

Building Construction, Development & Maintenance

Below are some of the laws that apply to businesses that construct, develop, renovate and maintain buildings/housing.

  • Building Control Act (Cap. 29)
    Building and Construction Authority (BCA)
    Laws relating to renovations and building works.

  • Building Maintenance And Strata Management Act 2004, Act 47 Of 2004
    Building and Construction Authority (BCA)
    Laws relating to proper maintenance and management of buildings.

  • Housing Developers (Control And Licensing) Act (Cap. 130)
    Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
    Laws relating to the licensing and control of housing developers.

Commercial & Residential Property

Below are some of the laws that apply to businesses, including real estate agents, that buy-sell residential and commercial property.

  • Residential Property Act (Cap. 274)
    Singapore Land Authority (SLA)
    Legislation relating to the restriction of ownership of residential property by foreign persons (including foreign companies and foreign societies).

  • Sale Of Commercial Properties Act (Cap. 281)
    Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
    Regulations on the sale of non-residential property such as offices, shops or factories.

Land Development, Planning & Titles

Below are some of the laws that apply to business that buy-sell or develop land.

  • Land Titles Act (Cap. 157)
    Singapore Land Authority (SLA)
    Laws relating to the registration of titles to land.

  • Land Titles (Strata) Act (Cap. 158)
    Singapore Land Authority (SLA)
    Legislation relating to the subdivision of land into strata units and the disposal of such units, including the collective sale of property.
  • Planning Act (Cap. 232) & Subsidiary Legislation
    Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
    Laws relating to land development.

Property Tax & Stamp Duty

Below are the laws relating to taxes and stamp duties on property and property transactions.

  • Property Tax Act (Cap. 254)
    Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
    Provisions for the levy of property tax on immovable properties such as houses, buildings and land.

  • Stamp Duties Act (Cap. 312)
    Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
    Provisions for the imposition of stamp duties on documents relating to immovable properties such as houses, buildings and land.

Finding Laws & Regulations

You can find Singapore's laws and regulations using the resources below. If you need help with legal matters, you should seek professional legal advice.

  • Singapore Statutes Online (free)
    Complete collection of the latest written laws passed by Parliament. They are known as “Acts” and set out the broad principles of laws.

  • Subsidiary Legislation (subscription/fees)
    Fully searchable online repository of Subsidiary legislation. Subsidiary legislations are “Regulations” that provide details on how Acts should be enforced.

  • Court Decisions (subscription/fees)
    Judgments from the courts can be found in LawNet – a searchable online database. Laws resulting from court decisions are known as Case Law.

How to Manage Your Mortgage If Your Lender Closes or Files for Bankruptcy

When a mortgage company closes or files for bankruptcy, its customers may be left wondering about the impact on their own loans. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says consumers should continue to make their mortgage payments as usual. The nation’s consumer protection agency has several situation-based tips for consumers who need to know what to expect in today’s mortgage market:

If your lender files for bankruptcy after your loan closes: Loans and the rights to service them often are bought and sold. A mortgage servicer collects your monthly loan payments, credits your account, and handles your escrow account, if you have one. If your mortgage servicer is different from your original lender — and your original lender goes out of business — continue to make your payments to the mortgage servicer by the date they’re due.

If your mortgage servicer files for bankruptcy or goes out of business: It’s very likely that a mortgage servicer that files for bankruptcy will sell its assets under the supervision of the bankruptcy court to another financial institution and transfer the servicing of your loan to another company. A mortgage servicer that simply goes out of business probably would transfer the servicing of your loan to another company as well.

How will you know if your loan has been transferred? Read your mail and your email — and pay attention to phone calls and messages that deal with a change of lender, a late payment, or a payment that wasn’t received. To avoid a scam, the FTC says, review the notices and call to confirm the new loan servicer before you send a payment.

If your loan is transferred to another servicer: Regardless of the reason for a loan transfer, you should get two notices: one from your current servicer and one from the new servicer. The current servicer must notify you at least 15 days before the effective date of the transfer — unless you got a written notice at your settlement. The effective date is when the first payment is due at the new servicer’s address. The new servicer also must notify you within 15 days of the transfer.

By law, the notices must include particular information:

  • the name and address of the new servicer;
  • the date your current servicer will stop accepting your payments;
  • the date the new servicer will begin accepting your payments;
  • telephone numbers for both the current and the new servicer that you can use to call toll-free or collect for more information about the transfer; and
  • whether you can continue any optional insurance, like life or disability insurance, whether you need to do anything to maintain coverage, and whether the insurance terms will change.

The notices also must include a statement that the transfer will not affect any terms or conditions of your mortgage contract, except those directly related to the servicing of your loan. For example, if your mortgage contract has an escrow account to pay property taxes and insurance premiums, the new servicer can’t close the escrow account.

In addition, you have a 60-day grace period after a transfer to a new servicer. That means you can’t be charged a late fee if you send your mortgage payment to the old servicer by mistake — and your new servicer can’t report that payment as late to a credit bureau.
The FTC advises all mortgage holders to read their monthly statements. If your statement is late — even by just a few days — call the mortgage company to track it down. Keep records of your payments, including billing statements, canceled checks, bank account statements, or online account histories if appropriate. If you have a dispute, continue to make your mortgage payments, but challenge the servicing in writing and keep a copy of your letter and any enclosures for your records. Send your letter by certified mail, and request a return receipt, or send it via fax, and keep the transmittal confirmation.

If you have an escrow account: An escrow account is a fund held by your servicer. You pay into the fund to cover charges like property taxes and homeowners insurance. Typically, your payments are included as part of your monthly mortgage payment, and the servicer pays your taxes and insurance from this fund as they come due. Even if your servicer files for bankruptcy or goes out of business, it is responsible for making the escrow payments in a timely way.

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) covers escrow accounts. If your mortgage servicer administers an escrow account for you, it is required to make escrow payments for taxes, insurance, and any other charges when they are due. The mortgage servicer also is required to give you a free statement every year that details the activity of your escrow account. This statement should show your account balance and reflect payments for your property taxes, homeowners insurance, and other charges. But it is your responsibility to review the statement to make sure the appropriate entities and payments are made.

If one recipient of escrow funds lets you know that a payment is overdue, call the others that are supposed to be paid from your escrow account — for example, state or county governments for property taxes, insurance companies, or homeowners associations — to make sure the funds are being transferred in a timely way. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enforces the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Contact HUD with questions or comments about RESPA by email ( or by phone (202-708-0502).

If your lender files for bankruptcy before your loan closes: If you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage and learn that the lender has filed for bankruptcy, call to find out if or when the company intends to make good on your loan. If the lender can’t — or has gone out of business altogether — start shopping around for another mortgage immediately.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

RESPA-related Inquiries and Disputes

Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), your mortgage servicer must respond promptly to your written inquiries. If you think you have been charged a penalty or a late fee that you don’t owe — or if you have other problems with the servicing of your loan — continue to make your regular monthly mortgage payment, and contact your servicer in writing in a separate communication. Send your letter — including your account number and an explanation of why you think your account is incorrect — to the customer service address. Don’t write your note on your payment coupon.

Timeline: The servicer must acknowledge your inquiry in writing within 20 business days of receiving it, and take action within 60 business days. The servicer must correct your account or determine that the accounting is accurate, and then send you a written notice of the action it took and why, and the name and phone number of someone to contact for more information or help.
In any case, do not subtract the disputed amount from your mortgage payment. Some mortgage servicers may refuse to accept what they consider a “partial” payment: they could return your check and charge you a late fee, or claim that your mortgage is in default and start foreclosure proceedings.

"A" Loan or "A" Paper

"A" Loan or "A" Paper: a credit rating where the FICO score is 660 or above. There have been no late mortgage payments within a 12-month period. This is the best credit rating to have when entering into a new loan.

How To Get a Fine New Appartment

Finding an apartment in New York City can be a daunting process. In today's tight real estate market, stories abound about apartment hunters seeing scores of units before finding a suitable one, only to be outbid by a prospective tenant with check in hand. It is also common to hear anecdotes about unbelievable deals on centrally-placed apartments found simply by word-of-mouth. How do apartment hunters actually find a place to live in New York City? Check out our Top Ten List to see the most common ways New Yorkers find apartments.

Ways to Find an Apartment

1: Brokers One of the most common methods of finding an apartment in New York City is using a real estate broker. If you know what neighborhood you want to live in, it's usually best to find a broker based there. Many brokers also have Web sites where you can view available apartments, sometimes even with photos and detailed descriptions.

2: Word-of-Mouth There is good news for those who would prefer not to pay hefty brokers' fees: a substantial number of New Yorkers find their units by word-of-mouth, mostly from friends, relatives, and co-workers. If you're looking for an apartment, make sure everyone you know knows that you're looking.

3: Classified Ads The third most common method used by recent movers is a classic: the classified ad. Movers cite using the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Daily News, local or community papers, and Newsday. Foreign-language or ethnic newspapers, such as El Diario and the Jewish Press, are also a good source of classified ads. Many newspapers now post their classified ads online, so make sure to check out the Web sites of local papers and online message boards like

4: Walking Around A small but notable percentage of movers find their apartment when they simply see a "For Rent" sign. It can pay to walk around the neighborhood you want to live in and look around.

5: Housing Office If you're living here for professional or educational reasons, don't neglect your organization's housing office or service. They know what you often don't about renting in New York City and it's their job to help you find a great new apartment.

6: Apartment Referral Service Referral services are a growing resource that savvy hunters, especially those who are comfortable searching on the Internet, should not neglect. For a monthly fee these services will provide you with a list of no-fee apartment rentals as they become available.

7: Finding a Vacant Apartment in Same Building Other movers find their apartments in the same building in which they already live. Be proactive and talk to neighbors, doormen, supers, landlords, and/or your management company to see if another apartment is available in the same building.

8: Going on Waiting Lists Affordable housing is often offered through waiting lists or application lotteries. If you have time before you need to move, put your name on waiting lists and/or fill out applications for affordable housing through the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), or the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA).

9: Community Groups You may occasionally find housing through local government offices or community groups that keep information on neighborhood housing notices.

10: Apartment Guides Lastly, don't forget to rely on resources like our Apartment Guide. These general references provide information about leases and other housing issues.

U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Developement

HUD's Office of Public Affairs (OPA) strives to educate and keep the American people informed about the Department's mission to sustain homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. By pursuing media outreach, OPA works to ensure homeowners, renters, and those living in subsidized housing hear directly from key officials about the Department's latest initiatives and goals. Using communications tools such as press releases, press conferences, the Internet, media interviews, New Media and community outreach, OPA provides Americans with information about housing policies and programs that are important to them.


Before you hire a real estate professional, it’s important to know the difference between a real estate broker and a real estate agent. Real estate brokers are licensed professionals who assist sellers and prospective buyers of homes. Real estate agents are licensed professionals who work under the supervision of a licensed real estate broker. In return, the broker pays the agent a portion of the commission earned from the sale or purchase of the property.

Real estate brokers and agents earn commissions from the services they provide. The services and the commission due to a broker working with a home seller are set out in the listing agreement that the broker and seller sign. Brokers generally list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a clearinghouse that member real estate brokers and agents use to exchange and update information on property listings, and to connect with other brokers or agents working with prospective buyers. To have a home listed on the MLS, a home seller usually agrees to offer a share of the total commission to a second broker who finds a buyer for the property.

Traditional, full-service real estate brokers working with sellers provide a broad range of services, including helping prepare the property for sale, recommending an asking price, publicizing the home to prospective buyers, arranging meetings and negotiating with prospective buyers, following up on home inspections and other matters once a sales contract is signed, and arranging for the closing of the transaction. A broker also may help by referring the home seller to other service providers, like mortgage lenders, title companies, home inspectors, and real estate attorneys, which could make the difference between success and failure in closing a sale. That said, remember that you are not locked into the service providers they recommend.

Non-traditional real estate brokers often offer many of the same services as full-service brokers, but on an a la carte basis, at a reduced commission rate, or for a flat fee. You may be able to pick and pay for only the services you want. If you choose more limited services, it means that you may have to do more of the work yourself to help sell your home. For example, some non-traditional brokers offer an MLS-only package, which includes listing the property on the local MLS for a flat fee: you would be responsible for every other aspect of the transaction, like advertising, running open houses, negotiating with buyers, and coordinating the closing.


Finding a broker whom you’re comfortable with may take a little time. Ask friends, co-workers, and neighbors who have sold houses in the recent past for recommendations. You also can see who’s selling property in your area by checking lawn signs and ads.

Interview several real estate brokers/agents to learn about their experience, track record, style, and market knowledge. Expect a broker to be professional: to return phone calls, to be organized, and to communicate clearly.

Here are some questions to ask to help you find the best real estate broker for you:

  • How many homes did you sell in the past year? Finding out what types of properties, how many units, and where brokers have sold can help determine how efficiently they’re operating and how much experience they have.

  • What is your commission? Real estate commissions are negotiable. They are neither fixed by law nor by any local real estate associations (at 6 percent or any other level). The rate could be a percentage of the final sale price of the property, an hourly fee, or a flat fee. The payment could be up front, or when the property is sold. As you interview real estate professionals, keep two things about fees in mind: a traditional full-service broker generally charges more than a nontraditional broker, and if you hire a nontraditional broker, you can expect to pay higher fees if you purchase more services.

  • What share of the total commission should I offer to another broker who finds the buyer? Your broker should be able to recommend that.

  • How will you market my home? Ask whether the broker plans to rely on the MLS alone, or use it in combination with newspaper ads, open houses, or other promotions. Will the home be visible on popular websites?

  • Will you help the buyer get financing? You also may want to discuss any seller-financing options you could offer to attract buyers.

  • Can you provide a list of references? The broker should be able to give you the names, addresses, and phone numbers of clients whose homes have recently sold. Ask each client how long their home was on the market, whether they were satisfied with the broker, and why. Ask if they have any tips for you – or lessons learned to share.

Real Estate Investments

My wife and I have a vacation home. Do I have to include it on the form?

If the home has been rented out at any point during the preceding calendar year or the current calendar year, and generated income over $200, then it needs to be included on Schedule A. Additionally, any mortgages over $10,000 related to the property should be included on Schedule C, Part I. If, however, the vacation home is used purely as a second residence, then it does not have to be reported on Schedule A or Schedule C.

I own farmland in Montana that currently is not producing any income. Do I have to report it?

Real estate valued at over $1,000 that is being held purely as an investment needs to be included on Schedule A. The nature and location of the real estate (e.g. “Farmland in Billings, Montana”) should be reported in Block A, and if there is currently no income to report, the “none” box should be checked in Block C. Additionally, any mortgage over $10,000 related to the property should be included on Schedule C, Part I.

Subdivided Lands Registration

The Idaho Real Estate Commission administers the Subdivided Lands Registration Act, which requires registration of time shares and some subdivision projects for those who market to Idaho residents. Please contact our office if you have any questions about this law.

IREC participates in the ARELLO Timeshare Registry (ATR), which has been adopted by 11 jurisdictions (AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, ID, LA, NC, OH, TX, and WA) representing 28% of the U.S. jurisdictions that require timeshare developers to register their projects. Five more jurisdictions are in the process of joining the ATR. Click here to read more on how the ATR works. IREC encourages all registrants to utilize the ATR for timeshare filings.

Real Estate Tax Tips

Generally, if you exchange business or investment property solely for business or investment property of a like-kind, no gain or loss is recognized under Internal Revenue Code Section 1031. If, as part of the exchange, you also receive other (not like-kind) property or money, gain is recognized to the extent of the other property and money received, but a loss is not recognized.

Section 1031 does not apply to exchanges of inventory, stocks, bonds, notes, other securities or evidence of indebtedness, or certain other assets.

Like-Kind Property

Properties are of like-kind, if they are of the same nature or character, even if they differ in grade or quality. Personal properties of a like class are like-kind properties. However, livestock of different sexes are not like-kind properties. Also, personal property used predominantly in the United States and personal property used predominantly outside the United States are not like-kind properties.

Real properties generally are of like-kind, regardless of whether the properties are improved or unimproved. However, real property in the United States and real property outside the United States are not like-kind properties.