Is Your Real Estate Advisor Licensed?
I spend a few hours each day answering questions and engaging on social media sites. About 50% of what I read and write have to do with personal matters. The other 50% deals with real estate. Recently I’ve been paying attention to conversations across the nation regarding the distressed real estate market. I am absolutely amazed at how many consumers are being advised by people who do not have a real estate license. Sure, anyone can read the paper and come up with their own opinion of what is working and not working. Some people have some knowledge of the market due to their personal experiences as a distressed property owner. But, unless you are in the field showing houses, writing offers, and negotiating contracts with buyers/ sellers and banks, you really don’t have a complete concept of what is going on out there. Anyone can watch from the sidelines and critique, but few actually jump in and get their hands dirty. I guess this is the case for most industries. Armchair quarterbacking is the American way. However, armchair quarterbacking in real estate can be dangerous and illegal.
So, how can you protect yourself as a consumer? Well, Google is your friend! Every state has a database of real estate licensees that can be accessed by the public. Generally you can Google, “[state] real estate license look up” and the database will be on the first page of Google. Virginia’s license database can be found here. You will need to know the name of the person you want to look up. As an added step, once you find out if the person has a license, it is good to Google their full name, First/ Last and First/ Middle/ Last to see what they’ve been up to the last few years. It’s always neat to go look toward the back of the google pages, where information gets buried.
All in all, you shouldn’t be taking real estate advice from people who aren’t actively involved in the real estate profession. Real estate is state specific and very local. Just because someone stayed at a Holiday Inn doesn’t make them qualified to give real estate advice.