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2019 IRS Audit Triggers for Real Estate Agents

IRS Audit Triggers for Real Estate Agents

While each new year is a good reason to look at finances, 2018 is an especially good year if your in the IRS Audit Trigger zone. While you may be celebrating, or hoping for better things to come the following year, your income (or profit) is almost always in an inverse relationship with your tax obligations. While it’s better to owe a lot in tax than owe none, you will want to make sure that you are “in the know” with regard to the new tax law. With that in mind, here are some audit triggers as well as some changes to the tax law to help get you off on the right track.

IRS and State Audit Triggers

1. Your numbers don’t match. Make sure your 1099’s and W-2’s match up to what’s being reported to the IRS. This is the fastest way to get a letter from the IRS because the matching is automated and is one of the first things they look at.

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. However, increasing your income also increases the amount of your income the IRS could stand to gain by auditing you, if they think you aren’t being honest with your deductions. If you are making a lot of money during the year, be very meticulous with your record keeping, and 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, you probably also have a lot less of it laying around to pay taxes with, so an audit could be extra 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. It is best to keep meticulous records of all income so that you can show the accurate income amount in case the IRS comes knocking.

4. You are self-employed. If you are in real estate, this likely applies to you. Even if you’ve set up your business as a corporation or an LLC and pay yourself that way, you will still fall into a higher risk category than someone earning a paycheck from a large company. There’s nothing you can do about this, but you can be extra cautious about the deductions you take, as well as ensuring you pay all of your tax liability in a timely manner, with quarterly payments made if possible.

5. You deduct your home office and/or vehicle. You should! But 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.

6. You have a lot of “meal/entertainment” deductions. Which for 2017 are allowable deductions but not for 2018. Are you deducting the entire amount when you should only be deducting the portion that was for the client(s)? Are you spending amounts that would be considered “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 in 2017.

7. Are Commission Advances deductible? Generally the fee incurred would be deductible, but check with your CPA to confirm. A commission Advance is usually considered a business expense but improper documentation of this may lead to an unnecessary audit.

8. 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.

9. Big Deductions? Is one or two of your deductions exceptionally large and outside of the norm for your industry, income bracket or year over year trend.

10. Suspicious Round Numbers? Suspiciously round numbers on your returns will raise and auditor’s eyebrow.

11. Tax Credits? Claiming Tax Credits that aren’t yours.

Bottom line if you have questions about a deduction that you can ask your CPA, it is better to ask them instead of going through an audit after the fact.

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.

recruiting agents

Real Estate Agent Recruiting Tactics

We all know that agent recruiting is the life blood of any successful real estate office, and it should be the goal to recruit the most, best agents.  But how does a real estate brokerage actually go about doing this?  Here are some of the tactics used by the most successful recruiters from around the world.

  • Some of the best agent recruiting is done by your current agents! Ask your agents whom they’ve enjoyed working with on past transactions, and whom they look up to at other offices.  Then provide incentives (trips, meals, a boost in their split) for the agents that provide you with the best referrals.
  • Get involved with charities and your local community. Sometimes the best way to find good real estate talent is in the most unlikely of places, and being involved in communities outside of your industry will help you grow your network immensely.
  • Get involved in communities in your industry, too! Hold a new agent training for your local board, and make sure to follow up with any qualified candidates.  Have your agents support you in this endeavor, and encourage them to follow up as well.
  • Email all of your top recruiting targets with their end of year sales and what they could have made working for you- NOTE: make sure you are confident of their current splits and that this would compare favorably before sending.
  • Organize an outing or mixer for some of your top agents to mingle and socialize with your top recruits, so the recruits can get a feel for what will allow them to continue to grow and succeed.
  • Everyone wants to grow their network, make sure you not only connect with your potential recruits on social media, but ensure that you impact your relationship with them positively.

Once you’ve had a chance to implement all of these tips, recruiting will no longer be about hunting whatever agents you are able to convince they should switch to you, but rather farming your various networks for the most, best agents around.

Happy recruiting!

Real Estate Listing Marketing Idea

Real Estate Listing Marketing Ideas

We all think we know how to market our listing but sometimes a refresher of a few items will help, and it can also be an opportunity to try new things.  Don’t know how…learn it on YouTube.  Here are the top real estate listing marketing ideas and how to get the best price for the least amount of days on the market.

1.    Price

Let’s face it, price is one of the biggest factors to getting your listing sold quickly.  Price it in the correct range for the quality of the house.  If you’re going to price it above all other comparable listings make sure it will appraise for that price.

2.    Set the Stage by Staging it!

If it’s empty, then stage it, if the seller is still living in the home then ask to help clean-up the clutter.  Professional stagers can work wonders with even the least appealing of houses.  Possibly refresh the house with new paint and carpet?

3.    Start with a Strong MLS Listing Description

Use a lot of keywords that other agents would use to find this home.  Key words or groups of key words (Long tail keywords) help with search engine optimization and will boost the exposure for your listing.

4.    Lots of Quality Photos

Photos say a thousand words.   Professional pictures of the front, back and every room, yards, scenic views in the neighborhood; anything at all to make the home more appealing.  If the price is a little higher than the competition the pictures should show why.

5.    Create Address Specific Landing Pages to Capture Leads

Getting a prospective buyer/lead is the first goal.  An address specific website for a high-end home really shows what you’re doing and improves your search engine optimization for marketing your listing.

6.    Posting on Facebook

The popularity of Facebook almost requires you to Post on Facebook because of the reach, don’t forget to boost your post before an open house by spending $10-$20 a day. Real estate listing marketing idea: Use hash tags to hit a larger audience. Consider changing your Profile Image to the image of the house with Open House information, that way people are notified of your change.  Suggest your friends to “Like” your marketing listing. For Top Ten Realtor Facebook Tip click here.

7.    Posting Real Estate on Instagram

Post pictures and a video on Instagram to your friends in the best location of the house.  Use a very a short description.

8.    Posting Real Estate on LinkedIn

This should be most of your business connections so get a few thousand connections that really count and market yourself as the go-to Agent and market all your properties.  Update your company profile with a professional description to make you and your listing stand out. For more information on LinkedIn Profile Optimizing Tricks click here.

9.    Open House

Consider a sign-in sheet and invite the neighbors. Do an evening open house with wine and cheese; everyone is in a better mood when the environment is festive.  Stay open later just don’t do the minimal Sunday from 1-4, maybe to 6pm.

10. Marketing in Magazines and Newspapers

One of the top marketing listing idea is the old-fashioned email marketing is the most cost-effective marketing to reach your audience.  You must dedicate an hour or two a month to update your contacts and maintain your Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  Send out at least one email a month about yourself, the local market, your brokerage and your listings.  Master the “Subject Line” it like the cover of the book, if its not interesting it won’t be opened.

11. Master your Elevator Pitch

What’s your 30 second pitch? Literally, if you were in an elevator going to the 20th floor, what would you say to the other person that just said they were moving to your marketing territory?

12. Email Marketing

One of the top real estate listing marketing idea is the old-fashioned email marketing is the most cost-effective marketing to reach your audience.  You must dedicate an hour or two a month to update your contacts and maintain your Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  Send out at least one email a month about yourself, the local market, your brokerage and your listings.  Master the “Subject Line” it like the cover of the book, if its not interesting it won’t be opened.

13. Send out Mailers

The same email marketing database (CRM) solution your using should also include mailing addresses to mail out postcards or flyers.

14. Brand yourself and the Property Profile across all Marketing Channels

If you have a team add their full profile to yours, and make sure to add the properties they sell to your page to boost your portfolio even further.  Review Building the Best Referral Base article click here.

15. Google Adwords for Real Estate Listing Marketing Ideas

If there are certain key words and long tail key works that buyers use in your area you can buy them on Google Adwords so your name is the first to show-up.  Real estate listing marketing idea examples:

  • “Vacation Beach House” – These key words can be purchase for a city or county.
  • “Napa Real Estate Agents” – Great for high end clients looking for an agent
  • “Beach houses in Newport Beach” – Great example of a long tail key word with a city

You can upload your contacts in Google as an Audience and market targeted ads to them.  The audience needs to be 5,000+ or more and Google will suggest similar lists that you can add.  The ads can be placed in Gmail accounts at the top of prospects emails and other locations.

Make sure to add “Negative Key Words” so that you are not marketing to everyone and wasting your budget.  Google support is available anytime and it’s a free resource so click on the large (?) at the top right-hand corner and call them with questions.

For a full ad on Google Adwords add the extensions for free to link to different tabs of your website.  Useful extensions would be to Listings, About Us, Resources, Contact Us, etc.

16. Yelp Account

Create a Yelp account and maintain it so it shows your current address, phone number, website and pictures.  Request past customers, associates and business partners to give you 5 stars along with some useful commentary.  This will help in your search engine marketing (SEO), not many real estate agents are focused on SEO but when you have the right profiles on social media accounts it really takes off.

17. Commission Advances for Real Estate Listing Marketing Ideas

If you have some listing marketing expenses that you need covered you may want to consider a commission advance.  An advance for a transaction that is in escrow is the most cost effective.  This is a quick and easy way to get part of your commissions early and get a portion of your commissions upfront.  Commission advances can be done for residential and commercial properties.  For more information on Commission Advance Tips click here.

18. Google your Name

When you google your name or company name and you don’t show up on the top then you need to work on your internet profile.  Make sure your social media profiles are all consistent with the same profile picture, phone number, website links and branding message.

19. Link it to Zillow

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) states that 92 percent of buyers house hunt online. As the largest real estate website with more than 160 million visitors per month, Zillow is the first place you need to be.

Real Estate Listing Marketing Idea: Once its listed in interesting statistic is the “Competition for this Home” which will show you the number of views in the last 30 days and the “Shoppers Saved” which means the number of individuals saved this home as a favorite in the last 30 days.

For more Zillow Tips & Tricks click here and here.

Conclusion

If you’re not technically savvy then hire an assistant or a marketing consultant because being a professional also means showing you’re a professional on-line.  If you’re not in front of your prospects then another realtor will be!  Having available cash flow to market your listing in the most professional and aggressive manner may require to have part of your commission early via a commission advance.  For more information about commission advances please check out Express Cash Flow.