Express Cash Flow, Commission Advances

Should Realtors Get a Commission Advance?

Express Cash Flow, Commission AdvancesThe Commission Advance Conundrum

Like many businesses, a typical real estate brokerage may have a line of credit available when a cash crunch occurs.  The brokerage can meet its recurring administrative payroll, pay office expense, and maintain regular budgets for recruiting and advertising.  When transactions are slow, similar to a commission advance, the line of credit kicks in to offset expenses.

This arrangement is necessary for the brokerage business and businesses of all kinds to be successful. It is not hard to understand why it is also necessary for realtors as well.   Realtors also have teams that require regular payment, regardless of the agent’s production. Most have listings that require advertisement and promotion.  Since most agents are running their own business, they are also responsible for all of their own expenses, and that can get expensive.

The problem is, realtors who sell 24 houses a year do not typically sell two houses each month. Rather, there is a spike in production in April-September, and a sprinkling of transactions in all other months. During the slow months, agents have little alternative but to ask for an advance. If they go to their broker for this, tension can mount.

A Solution!

Realtors stuck in this situation often don’t know what way to turn, but just like in any business, there is a solution.  A commission advance company like Express Cash Flow can provide an external solution to this problem.  When a realtor goes to a third party company for a commission advance, what can be an informal arrangement becomes formalized.  An amount is given as an advance, for a specific period of time, and there is a fee for doing so.

There is also a clearly laid out extension fee schedule, leaving no room for ambiguity.  The best reason for using a third party commission advance company is that it removes the tension between agent and broker if a deal falls apart.

Yes!  Get A Commission Advance!

More realtors than one would think utilize commission advance services.  Some of the top producers whom are very well known and have massive marketing budgets use commission advances.  If you have aspirations of success, a commission advance should not stop you.

Attractive blonde young woman at the wheel in her new car

Realtor Tips – Buy vs Lease Vehicles

Realtor Tips - Buy vs Lease Vehicles

Realtor Tips – Buy vs Lease VehB

Realtor: Buy vs Lease

A typical realtor makes well informed decisions when it comes to the vehicle they are going to drive.

In today’s economy, if car dealerships had it their way, everyone would be leasing their vehicles.

For starters, the shorter term life cycles of leases guarantee more transactions will happen, keeping dealer volume high.  When a customer returns a vehicle on lease to the dealership, multiple transactions happen.  In addition, customers enjoy the perks of a short term lease, such as a full manufacturer warranty, and customer loyalty is always the goal.  This is the dealer’s best case scenario.

Do Your Homework

Any realtor looking for a new ride will want to map out goals ahead of time.  Having a plan of what you want will help avoid the pitfalls of an unethical salesperson.  If you are going to consider a lease, keep in mind that realtors drive more than almost any other profession.  In fact,  National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates the average realtor driving in excess of 30,000 miles annually for business alone.

Dealerships often offer leasing as an attractive option due to a lower monthly payment, but this can be misleading. The monthly payments may be lower and tempting, but so is the annual mileage allotment.  Exceeding this mileage allotment will result in extra payments, and possibly even a higher payment than the purchase option.

Let’s see which real estate agents should NOT lease:

Any agent who drives more than 17,000 miles per year. NAR estimates that its own agents average about 30,300 miles annually for business-related driving. If you do that much driving from open houses to showings, or if your lease is not set up correctly (cannot afford the payments of high mileage lease), don’t get talked into leasing a car. Since leasing companies charge between 15 – 30 cents per mile you drive over their standard limit of 10,000 miles annually, a 7,000 mile overage could end up costing as much as $2,100 at the end of the lease.

The Decision

If you are not into changing cars every three years, and would like to buy one and drive it until you are ready for a change.

If pre-owned is an option. You can save several thousands of dollars on a one-year-old, low mileage pre-owned vehicle.

It’s practically impossible for buyers—who on average only buy three to five cars in a lifetime—to keep track of it all and be informed enough so no one takes advantage of them. There are many loopholes and facts to be aware of and so make sure you do your homework before going into the dealer.

About Us:

Express Cash Flow provides commission advances for real estate agents and brokers.  Check us out at www.ExpressCashFlow.com or call us at 844-818-2274.

Top Real Estate Agent IRS Audit Triggers

Real Estate Agent IRS Audit Triggers

As the calendar year ends, every real estate agent will look back at how the year went financially.   Your income (or profit) is almost always in an inverse relationship with your tax obligations.  As a real estate agent, you will want to take as many steps as possible to avoid an audit.  With that in mind, here are the top audit triggers, and what you can do to avoid them.

Income Audit Triggers

  1. Income Numbers Don’t Match. Make sure your 1099’s match up to what you report to the IRS.  This is the fastest way to get a letter from the IRS because the IRS will automatically detect a discrepancy.
  2. You made a lot of money this past year. This one is simple, and it is good.  You want to make a lot of money as a real estate agent, that’s probably why you got in the business.  However, increasing your income also increases the amount of your income the IRS could stand to gain by auditing you.  If you are making a lot of money during the year, make sure you can prove everything that you are taking as a deduction.
  3. You made a lot less money this past year. This is not as good.  If you made a lot less money, an audit could be even more devastating.  If you are legitimately reporting all income, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, but if there’s a chance you might not have reported everything (even by accident), this won’t look good in an audit.

Deduction/Employment Audit Triggers

  1.  As A Real Estate Agent, You’re Self Employed. If you are a real estate agent, this likely applies to you.  Even if you’ve set up your business as a corporation or an LLC , you will still fall into a higher risk category than someone earning a paycheck from a large company.  Be extra cautious about the deductions you take, an make tax liability payments promptly.
  2.  You deduct your home office and/or vehicle. You should!  But as a real estate agent, you have to do this one right.  You should get clear with your CPA on exactly how much is allowable for home office and vehicle deductions, as going over these thresholds can be a red flag that results in an audit, regardless of how much income you make.  Be very careful to follow these guidelines.
  3.  Meal/Entertainment Deductions. Yes, these deductions are allowable, but under strict guidelines.  Are you spending amounts that are “excessive” or “lavish”?  Are you spending amounts that are too large in proportion to your gross income?  All of these things can be red flags that trigger an audit, and you will find yourself in a difficult situation trying to justify these expenses.  Meals and entertainment costs are deductible up to 50 percent if they are ordinary and necessary to your business.
  4.  You were particularly generous this year! The IRS is always on the lookout for people who inflate their charitable donations and use a range based off a percent of income that is reasonable.

Bottom line if you have questions about a deduction that you can take ask your CPA, its better to then going through an audit.

About Us:

Express Cash Flow provides commission advances for real estate agents and brokers.  Check us out at www.ExpressCashFlow.com or call us at 844-818-2274.

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Three Myths about Commission Advances

If you’ve been waiting for a sale to officially close, chances are that you’ve thought about whether or not commission advances were the right move for you and your business. With all of the information out there, it can be difficult to separate myth from fact and make the most informed decision to keep your business moving forward. Here are a few pieces of advice that you can safely toss aside.

When to lock mortgage rate

When to Lock a Mortgage Rate

When to lock mortgage rateReal estate agents are often asked to advise homebuyers on financial matters especially on mortgage rates and when to lock them in. These can be difficult conversations, because things like whether to lock or float an interest rate can be guess work. A mortgage rate lock simply guarantees a specific interest rate if a loan closes by a particular date. Rates can often be locked for up to two months. At Express Cash Flow, we work with agents to keep their cash flowing with commission advances, and we’ve picked up a few tips for homebuyers who are deciding when to lock in an interest rate.

Property Value Image

Should You Get A Second Appraisal?

Another Appraisal?

It’s a nightmare scenario. After brokering an excellent deal and receiving an offer right at or slightly above purchase price, the home sellers, buyers, and agents are simply waiting for the final details to fall into place, when the unthinkable occurs: an appraisal below purchase price.

Nothing can kill a real estate deal faster than an appraisal falling short of the agreed-upon purchase price because buyers can’t get a loan for more than an appraisal says the house is worth. The National Association of Realtors reports that about 10 percent of canceled sale contracts are due to low appraisals.

So what’s a real estate agent to do when this situation occurs? First, these are times when commission advance can help agents maintain cash flow to their real estate businesses while sellers, buyers and agents attempt to salvage the deal.

What Now?

So, should you seek a second appraisal? Here are a few things to consider.

It’s important to remember that an appraisal is simply the opinion of one appraiser. This means two different appraisers can conclude two different values for the same home. As a real estate agent, you have certain tools at your disposal to determine whether an appraiser’s opinion is accurate.

Most lenders have a process for challenging an appraisal, so savvy agents often start by pulling comparable properties that have recently sold and making a case to the buyer’s potential mortgage lender. Appraisers typically pull comparable sales information from multiple listing services, so if sales occurred outside of the listing service, point those out. Also, check if the comparables used by the appraiser were short sales or foreclosures. Short sales and homes in foreclosure usually sell for less than homes sold by owners in good financial standing with their lenders.

Find out the lender’s appraisal challenge process. Appraisals cost the buyer or the lender, so be prepared to give specifics about what the appraiser missed in valuing the property. In addition to providing comparable property sales, be prepared to show improvements to the home that an appraiser may have overlooked. If the appraisal shows two bathrooms when there are actually three, ensure that the lender or appraiser on a second pass knows the correct number of bathrooms and bedrooms and the correct square footage of the home.

Many times, these contracts that fall apart due to low appraisals can be salvaged, but it takes research and effort to get the job done. An express commission advance can keep the bills paid until a delayed deal closes.

Top Expenses of Real Estate Agents

Owning your own business comes with a roller coaster of highs and lows, both emotionally and financially. Real estate brokers and agents are not immune to these, and the costs of running a real estate business can add up quickly, especially considering how long transactions take (and they are only taking longer).

Here is a partial list of the cash it takes to be a real estate agent:

Before you stick that first “For Sale” sign in a yard, or show that first home to a potential buyer, you’ll need to spend between $1,500 and $2,000. You’ll need to enroll in a real estate class, typically from a state accredited provider. The costs will vary. In California, for example, courses range from $200 to $700. Once you’ve finished the course, you’ll need to take the licensing exam. In California, the licensing exam fee is $60. Many states also require fingerprinting and background checks, which range in cost.

Realtor Association Fees

You don’t have to join the local association of Realtors in your area, however, membership has its benefits. Members of the association sign a code of conduct, and typically, its board has a regulatory authority over its members. Your fees may include membership in a local organization as well as a state organization. If you live in a metropolitan area that bisects more than one state, you may have to pay membership fees to more than one state or locality. Your local Realtor association also hosts a multiple listing service, or MLS, allowing other agents to peruse the listings of their peers.  There is an annual membership fee to join the association. In most places, the fee costs between $200 and $500 per year. Real estate agents pay this fee once each year.

Multiple Listing Service Dues

You’ll have to be a member of the local association to use your area’s multiple listing service. In addition to the association membership fee, you’ll also need to pay an annual fee to subscribe to the MLS, As the listing service is linked to a geographic area, these fees vary by location.

Agency Fees

Real estate agents who are just starting out must either obtain a broker’s license themselves, or work underneath the supervision of an established brokerage. Many brokers will require that real estate agents contribute to office and franchising costs, and they do this in a variety of ways. The most common ways are to charge a monthly “desk” fee regardless of the agents production, or instead they’ll charge a % of each transactionthe real estate agent closes.

Equipment Costs

You’ll have some access to office equipment, but you’ll also need a top of the line mobile device and associated data plan. What’s more, you’ll also need a durable and efficient laptop, as well as a high end camera (nope, that one on your phone isn’t going to cut it) to take listing photos.   Yard signs, open house signs, lockboxes and lockbox keys also come with the territory.

Error and Omissions Insurance

This insurance protects you if a real estate contract or issue winds up in court. Costs vary per area and per brokerage.

Real estate agents typically spend $3,000+ to become licensed and start their business. Agentswill spend far more each year on marketing and general expenses to keep it going. Though costs vary from agent to agent and state to state, a commission advance service is one way to help fight the challenge of consistent expenses and, at least in the beginning, income that takes a while to become consistent.