Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti Real Estate and Community News

April 11, 2019

Searching and Describing Condos

April 1, 2019

Four Factors That Determine a Home's Value

Buying and selling property in any city can be difficult, especially if you don’t know your home’s value. There are a few things that you can do however to determine that value and get the best price whether you are buying or selling. Today we have a quick list detailing four different factors to look out for, especially if you’re getting ready to do anything with real estate in Ypsilanti Michigan. We’ll start with the location.

Location Matters for Real Estate in Ypsilanti Michigan

Whether you’re dealing with Ypsi condos or regular residential homes, you need to take into account what an appraiser will be looking for. While the home might be in the ideal location for yourself and your family, it might not be for others. Some of the most common factors include:

·         School Quality and Proximity

·         Employment

·         Nearby Amenities (shopping, medical care, entertainment, etc)

With all of this being said, you can see why one house may be more popular and higher priced than another even if it is only a few miles away. The proximity to highways, services, utility lines, and even public transit can make all the difference in the world.

The Size of the Home

How big the home is will play a huge part in the final selling price, but you also need to think about how much useable space you have in there. For every home, the value is estimated by price per square foot, and the sale price is divided by the home’s square footage. A 2,000 square foot selling for $200k for example would come out to $100 per square foot. This, of course, excludes the amenities that may have an impact on the home’s overall price. Once again, however this all dependent the location of the home and its proximity to amenities as per the previous paragraph.

Livable space is another important thing to take into consideration, so for example, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. If you were to add bedrooms, you could increase the value of your home by twenty percent. Just make sure that you are doing it within legal guidelines, for example, a basement bedroom is against code if there is no fire escape.

The Age of the Home

The Ypsilanti real estate market is saturated with turn of the century homes, but regardless, brand new homes will always appraise at a higher value. The reason behind this is often that newer homes come with state-of-the-art amenities and more up to date materials. For example in a newer home you’re going to have a higher insulation R-Value right out of the box along with an electrical system that can withstand modern loads. Property in Ypsilanti Michigan will always go faster on the market if it is move-in ready, so combat this by keeping your home up to date.

Home Upgrades

Before you put your home on the Ypsilanti real estate market it would be a good idea to see about some upgrades. Better amenities, better wiring, new windows, and even a change of siding for the exterior can raise the home’s value significantly. A remodeling project that involves swapping out the kitchen cabinets or changing the backsplash for example can go a long way toward helping you get top dollar. If your home has outdated features, speak to an interior designer or contact a remodeling company to help you get it up to date.

Bottom line: The only thing that you cannot fix when it comes to your home’s value is the location. You can remodel, you can add bedrooms, you can make repairs, but ultimately it all comes down to where it is. Fortunately, most homes in Ypsi are within close proximity of schools, hospitals, shopping, and much more. With the right repairs and the right realtor, you can still get your money’s worth.

Posted in Education
March 31, 2019

Basic Content Marketing Strategy for Realtors Targeting Google Keywords

March 31, 2019

How to Build Neighborhood Profile Guides

March 22, 2019

Design Guide: Types of Homes You'll Find in Ypsilanti

 

As you put in your time shopping for Ypsilanti real estate something that you’re going to find out quickly is that a house is more than just a house. Houses have many different shapes and styles ranging from those invented in the modern day to those that date back hundreds of years. Ypsilanti is a cultural melting pot so it shouldn’t surprise you to see a mix of styles including the famous Dutch Colonial Revival. In today’s post we’re going to take a quick look at a few of the most common houses you’ll find in Ypsi and give you some of the details. Your dream home might be here, somewhere in downtown Ypsi just waiting for you to claim it.

Dutch Colonial Revival – A Staple of Ypsilanti Real Estate

America, like Ypsilanti has always been a melting pot and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the early settlers brought their own home designs to the region. Dutch colonies were established in New York, New Jersey, Western Connecticut, and Delaware, all featuring housing styles familiar to the regions from which their settlers came. The Dutch style house featured the typical V shaped roof with curved eaves that ran along the length of the structure. Prior to 1776 the majority of these houses were only one and a half stories tall, but in Albany you could see plenty of two-story houses that still perfectly embraced the Dutch Colonial style.

While the Dutch Colonial building method faded away for a time, we started to see it make a comeback in the late 19th century. Sometimes looking at the past through rose colored lenses is a bad thing but in the case of this housing style, it wasn’t a terrible idea at all. ‘Dutch Colonial Revival’ houses began to appear in the 1920’s and as expected, they quickly made their way to Ypsilanti. While they're more uncommon in Ann Arbor, you can find plenty in Ypsilanti proper, making it a perfect location for those who want to add a bit of culture and variety into their lives.

The Bungalow – Common in the Ypsilanti Real Estate Market

Efficiency is the name of the game with the bungalow and while we often think of 20th century homes when the word ‘bungalow’ is uttered, it is in fact something that dates back to the mid-17th century; India to be precise. Originally, these were referred as the Bengali style home and they were the sole domain of the British ruling class. Their popularity however outshone their original intent and we started to see them built in suburbs. Bungalow tends to be an umbrella term for real estate in Ypsilanti Michigan as it encompasses several different styles including California style, Chicago Style and yes, even Michigan Style. No matter which style you subscribe to for your personal preference however you can recognize the bungalow by low eaves, exposed rafters, covered front porches, tapered columns, and tons of living space on the main floor. The Bungalow style home will always have a place in our hearts and on the streets of American neighborhoods.

The Mid-Century "New Deal-Era" Style – Understated and Affordable

If you’re looking for something modern and easy to maintain, then the mid-century style is always available. You can recognize it by the straight lines in its construction, hardwood floors, with large windows that let in plenty of natural light. We started to see this one rise to popularity in the 1950’s and 60’s, with some of the pioneers of the style being Ludwig Miles van der Rohe and Rudolph Schindler. Along with their more modest, traditional floor plans, these houses are typically made from modern materials including steel structural I-beams, concrete block foundation walls, aluminum siding exteriors, gypsum drywall, and plywood sheathing. You'll often find characteristics from their vintage such as laundry chutes or milk doors in the kitchen. The Ypsilanti & Ann Arbor real estate market has an abundance of these since the post-war period in America brought about a mortgage and construction boom. 50's and 60's built homes are some of our favorite construction not only for its simplicity but for its durability and soundness; many of these homes with basements never had sump pumps because the builders from this era were more selective as far as elevation and engineering for water mitigation. This vintage typically offers a product which is structurally superior to modern-day construction & code standards.

The Victorian Style – Another Umbrella Term

When you use terms like ‘Victorian style home’ you’re actually opening up a can of worms because there are so many different styles out there. To start we’ll say that the name ‘Victorian’ is a reference to the period in history in which the homes were at the height of their popularity. Sprawling homes with wrap-around porches complete with vibrant colors and elaborate woodwork, balusters and skirting, you may find these being painstakingly restored in neighborhoods with skyrocketing home values. Well-known examples of the Victorian style home would be the Addams Family house or the home featured in the movie ‘Clue!’, although if you want something a little less creepy it can be arranged. The inside of these homes often features huge archways, formal living rooms, formal dining rooms, parlors, libraries, and much more. They’re a testament to their time period and still very much a treasured part of American culture.

These are just a few of the home types that you’re going to find in Ypsilanti – a city bursting at the seams with a culture that matches the character of the home you choose to buy. It’s a great place to call home and almost always an opportunity for you to own a great piece of history.

 

 

Posted in Education
March 20, 2019

Alexander's 4 Favorite Ypsilanti Condos

Our All-Time Favorite Ypsi Condos

1) The Cliffs Landing & Cliffs on the Point Condos

Featuring million-dollar lake views, boat docks and fireplaces for a reasonable price, The Cliffs condos in Ypsilanti are a collective of about 6 different condominium co-owners associations ("phases") which were constructed between 1968 up to 1982. Because of the variation in year built, home buyers will find that some buildings have different exterior and common area finishes from others. The Cliffs is located right off of Grove Rd., which is convenient to Downtown & Depot Town as well as express ways for Ann Arbor and Detroit commuters. Association fees may seem high at first glance but they include gas (heat, cooking, fireplace), water, ext and common area maintenance, snow removal, and rubbish-- so the only utility which co-owners pay here is electric. Many units have fireplaces and their own boat slips for kayaks and canoes. Access to the Cliffs is gated and the association employs a security company that routinely checks in on residents and guests coming to and from the subdivision in the evenings. The combination of amenities, features, location, and residents here creates a particularly peaceful and serene environment; a Washtenaw County favorite.

Honorable Mention: Cliffs on the Bay

Cliffs on the Bay deserves inclusion since it offers many lake views comparable to Cliffs Landing, but for a significantly lower sale price average (with units selling in the $70k-$100k range during 2018). Constructed a bit earlier in 1966, Cliffs on the Bay amenities include million-dollar unobstructed lake views, fireplaces, car ports, a community pool w/ fire pit and picnic tables, and some additional storage for kayaks or canoes. Like the main Cliffs sub (#1), docks are available for a nominal seasonal maintenance fee. Since Cliffs on the Bay does not include gated access and security patrols, the HOA fees tend to be a bit more reasonable and include gas (for heat, cooking, and fireplace), water, exterior maintenance, snow removal, lawn maintenance, common area maintenance, and trash pick-up. A fantastic value for Ypsilanti MI real estate.

2) Harbour Cove Condos

Harbour Cove On the Lake are a well-kept secret with fantastic lake views on the South side of Ford Lake off of Textile Rd in a very popular part of Ypsi Twp. It makes my list for top ypsi condos for having nice floor plans including ~500sf studios, ~600sf 1 bedrooms, ~900-1000sf 2 bedrooms, and ~1450sf bi-level 3 bedrooms; so there is something for everyone although the subdivision itself is small which makes the units here more rare. 18 units in Harbour Cove sold for 2018, so about one or two were sold per month. HOA fees are reasonable here, and the association amenities include tennis court and community pool. Some units include boat docks w/ lifts, carport(s), and walk-out patios facing the lake. Conveniently located with bus line access and an easy commute to either Ann Arbor or Metro Detroit. Definitely worth checking out if you're in the market for Ypsi condos.

3) Rivergrove Village

Another Ypsi Twp condo worth mentioning is Rivergrove Village, located just off Grove Rd at the corner of Bridge St. While Rivergrove doesn't offer lake views, it offers newer-built townhomes all with attached 2 car garages and brick exteriors which feel more like a house than a condominium. Floor plans include ranch-style end units as well as bi-level townhouse-style units. As of 2018 in Rivergrove some units are still under construction so buying new is still an option and lets the purchaser select their interior finishes; counter tops, cabinets, flooring, etc. Many units have spacious decks for entertaining and grilling outside, and interior square footage ranges from a bit shy of 1500sf (ranch style) up to around 1800sf (bi-level/townhouse style). Association fees are very low, like ~170/mo, but do not include utilities and may be subject to change based on the association aging and requiring more exterior & common area maintenance over time. Some units have energy star certifications. If you're looking for an Ypsilanti home and want a modern floor-plan with walk-in closets and a good spacial flow, without having to deal with the fuss of exterior maintenance and lawn & snow, I would recommend having a look at Rivergrove Village.

4) Brickhaven Condos

Brickhaven is located on Ballard right in the heart of the City of Ypsilanti, just a couple blocks from both EMU and Downtown Ypsi. Not only are these condos exceptionally walkable for students and townies, they provide a great bang for the buck with sale prices for 2018 floating around $50k-$65k for a 2 bedroom just shy of 1000sf. Building exterior is brick (as the name would suggest), common entryways with secured building access, large walk-out patios spanning the length of the units, and a very reasonable HOA fee ($260/mo last I checked) which includes heat, water, gas, exterior maintenance, hallway cleanings, lawn care and snow removal. Brickhaven is convenient to everything Ypsi City has to offer including bars and nightlife at an unbeatable value. Being a small 1-building sub downtown, these units are becoming hard to come by with only 3 or so units selling in the Ypsilanti real estate market for 2018.

March 18, 2019

Historic Ypsilanti Real Estate: Acquisition, Financing, and Rehabilitation

An actionable primer from an Ypsilanti broker and licensed builder experienced in architectural conservation/restoration/rehabilitation


At the heart of a community are its architectural assets which determine the feel and the flavor of neighborhoods and streets. In my home market, Ypsilanti’s historic real estate are beloved community assets which are essentially unrivaled in Washtenaw County — homeowners and property stewards here would have to go as far as Detroit, Chicago or Toledo to find the comparable architectural gems of the caliber which Ypsilanti enjoys.

Initial Considerations

The first steps in living out your dream of owning and restoring a piece of history is to determine (1) your market, (2) your budget, and (3) your project & its timeline. A broker with first-hand experience in this endeavor will assist in understanding these first 3 criterion, and should also provide insight along the way, eg; They will help you digest your transaction and remind you of your priorities and concerns during points where you feel overwhelmed by the emotional roller coaster of acquisition and negotiation or when your head may be in the clouds; they will share valuable existing relationships with you as far as skilled trades, general contractors, architects, interior designers, lawyers, and occasionally officials who serve with or on building, zoning, or historic oversight departments. Your broker/agent is someone who you should feel comfortable enough to ask all of your questions to, and confident that they will also ask the hard questions  that could impact your interest in a property to buy and restore. Your broker/agent will be your primary guide and in situations where they don’t have the answer they will point you in the right direction.
a good salesman will talk you out of the wrong deal and into the right one because he/she knows, believes in, and often owns his/her product. They'll care more about their professional reputation than any one individual sale.

Now that we have the broker, we have a good idea of the market as far as what $ will buy what house. We need to know your budget to understand buying power, market conditions, and transaction terms. Either the Realtor® or the loan officer will generally be able to tell you if you do not meet the minimum financials for a loan pre-approval. They’ll also provide a breakdown of figures to show your down payment and closing costs. You’ll usually have your credit checked and get a pre-approval from that lender who will also know whether or not you’ll need to sell a home first (if applicable) — that will be part of your offer package which will go with your transaction terms later.

In my experience the smaller, local credit unions tend to have the best rates and fees along with in-house underwriting which will allow your loan officer to get technical questions answered and loan conditions cleared faster and easier than a bank/mortgage broker who outsources their underwriting process to some other entity outside of their office. Having a knowledgeable loan officer with easy access to underwriting staff can not only save you time and money, but depending on circumstances it can save your entire deal. As we say so often in real estate, “Time is of the essence.”


You have your down payment, closing costs, and pre-approval all ready; it’s time to find a place. Your budget, and current market conditions will determine what you find and how your sale terms will ultimately look.

Since you’re looking for property for historic restoration and rehab, you may want to narrow your search to focus on new listings and homes built prior to, eg, 1940 — to narrow down the options. If you’re in a seller’s market most of what’s available will be stale or overpriced inventory — don’t be discouraged, just offer market value even if the property is overpriced. Sometimes a seller prefers to list high, this can go to your advantage as a buyer if the market is against you and the property is overpriced since it makes you less likely to need to compete against other buyers for the asset.

A few words on negotiation: The buyer, the seller, both of their agent(s) (if applicable), the appraiser and lender will all need to be comfortable with the agreed-upon sales price. If you’re buying with cash, you don’t necessarily need to involve an appraiser or lender. But if you’re financing for the purpose of rehabbing historic property you may end up needing a renovation or construction mortgage which can finance your rehabilitation repairs along with the property’s acquisition cost. The lender is going to need to see your appraisal coming in with an ARV (After Repair Value) which is in step with the market the property is in — so for example if you want to buy a house for $100,000, and you need to invest $100,000 worth of rehabilitation & repairs, and the appraiser says it will be only $150,000 ARV after all of the work is done — you’re going to have a problem since the lender will need to see all the work to be done at a realistic valuation in totality for them to collateralize the asset. So the $150k example wouldn’t finance — you need the price to be right in order to get the entire job done and completed or you need to pass over the property and find a better option. Your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) is what negotiations are based upon — we’ll discuss BATNA some other time in a separate article on that topic.

During the financing process, the lender will need to review the project bids & estimates along with the appraisal for the property — and then review and verify your builder is in good standing with the state’s licensing bureau, check references from past customers, check their builder’s insurance and/or workman’s compensation insurance are adequate and in good standing, etc. Their builder’s activation package covers all of this and they’ll need that completed as part of the loan process as well. Some banks will allow your Realtor to double as your builder/contractor if he holds licenses and insurances for both (as I do!), and wants the job. Once the property closes and is officially yours, the lender will issue draws to the contractor from the construction/renovation funding — and during various phases and/or after he’s completed the job the lender will send out an appraiser to verify the project is moving along as planned or was completed.


When you come across historic real estate needing a lot of repair and reconfiguration, start off with a punch list of items which you can safely assume need to be repaired or replaced in order to bring the property into good order. When you’re on a tour be sure to take notes and, if you can, kick the tires a bit (flushing toilets, testing lights or furnaces, etc.); I call this a “pre-inspection” and there are many checklists online to help guide you with what to look for. Any items that you and your agent assume needs to be repaired/fixed will go into that punch list which is also called “Capital Expenditures”, or CapEx. Depending on the severity of the repairs needed in the property, you may want to have it inspected by a home inspection contractor, or you may want to hire trades/contractors to inspect directly in lieu of your regular home inspector— since most home inspectors will (in my experience) refer you to trades for any items that seem to be outside code, generally without being able to quote a cure to the problem. If the property’s condition is really bad it’ll be helpful to involve specific trades and builder/contractors right off the bat during your inspection period so that way you’ll have, eg, a master electrician looking at electrical and/or a master plumber looking at plumbing and able to quote their repair/replacement on-site during your inspection period. This route may require a lot of coordination between various tradesmen— but for the purpose of re-negotiation based on your inspection contingency, having detailed bids in hand specifying what needs to be done from actual tradesman is far more valuable than trying to negotiate based on non-binding ballpark estimates.

Spalling Historic Brick

In Michigan at the time of writing this article (early 2019) the state has two separate building codes; (1) the standard new construction code, and (2) the Michigan rehabilitation code. The rehabilitation code is important particularly for historic rehabilitation because it provides more leeway to bring historic properties up to code without completely re-configuring and rebuilding them all new to meet modern new construction standards. For example, on historic brick work: if your historic property has brick masonry walls (often 2 or 3 “wythes”, or layers/rows, thick of brick) in a building built in the 1880s, you should look for matching hand-made historic brick to match the original brick rather than bringing in modern-day brick and modern-day concrete. The reason for this is because historic brick is more absorbent to water, lighter, and more malleable than the bricks currently made today — historic brick and mortar are designed to breathe and expand/contract as the seasons change; so if you were to miss-match old with new, you may ruin your masonry altogether since the old existing brick is able to breathe, expand and contract, and wick moisture while the new brick will not — and this can lead to bricks cracking under the pressure of expansion. Another example: If the property has a bathroom which is smaller or otherwise wouldn’t fit to modern building code requirements (or ADA, the Americans w/ Disability Act) which could stipulate tearing out the bathroom and laying it out differently, moving fixtures, etc — the Michigan rehab code may provide you with exceptions for you to keep your bathroom how it historically was.


If the property needs so much work that you aren’t sure what’s what (eg, “Can I put this kitchen back where it once was?”), or if the property is either partially (mixed use) or totally commercial, or ≥5 residential units you may need to need another expert: Enter the Architect. Especially if you’re relying on the Michigan rehabilitation code, it may be prudent to involve an architect who is familiar with the rehab code as early as you can. He will serve as a liaison between you and the municipal building department, handle any planning and design work that the building officials may require, and sometimes the architect may manage your contractors directly. I’ll stress that the architect needs to be on-board if you’re planning to restore historic commercial real estate in Michigan (since builders may not be able to open project permits without a registered design professional, or architect, to manage and “stamp”, or certify, the project).


By now you’ve found the property, you’ve negotiated a price based on your market conditions, after repair value (ARV), and your subject property’s strengths, weaknesses and defects. You’ve done a “pre-inspection” during a showing tour, negotiated a fair deal for all parties, and carried out inspections and due diligence involving a slew of professionals in order to verify the scope of work and get a good idea of the risks, the costs, and time the work could require. You’re right near the finishing line; the closing. But before you get there, it’s worth making one last request from your seller (if possible) — ask them if they hold any documentation, specifically a title abstract from the home. Title abstracts are these anachronistic tomes of titular transfer documents that will allow you to trace the history of the property through its various owners, uses, trusts, or court cases affecting the property. Abstracts were phased out earlier on when county registrars began to electronically manage titles, but the old title abstracts predating that are still scattered in attics around the country.

After your closing, you can finally pop the champagne… But don’t forget to go to your local historic society or history museum in order to research your property. Every historic asset has a story which involves generations of previous owners, your ownership is only one chapter and searching its history and prior uses/owners is part of the magic. Find that history, preserve it, and make your contribution to it.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

For Ypsilanti Historic Real Estate call Munro Real Estate

Don’t hesitate to contact me for all of your SE Michigan real estate needs:

Alexander Munro — 734.272.6612 — awmunro@gmail.com — www.munropros.com

March 16, 2019

The Top Four Reasons to Move to Ypsilanti

When someone asks the question ‘Why would I want to move to Ypsilanti?’, the only proper response is ‘Why wouldn’t you?’. There are so many amazing things for you to see here whether you’re looking at the people, the culture, the events, or even the architecture. If you’re someone who likes the idea of a bustling city with a diverse culture, then you’ve come to the right place. Imagine a city like Portland right here in the southern part of the Mitten – that’s what you get when you move to Ypsilanti. If you’re thinking of investing in Ypsilanti real estate or making your home here, then you couldn’t have made a better decision. Today we take a look at four different reasons you should be considering investing in Ypsilanti MI real estate.

 

Reason 1: All About the Real Estate Architecture in Ypsilanti Mi

As you are faced with the harrowing decision of choosing between Ypsi and A2, you should know that Ypsi Township is a much more interesting place. While they are both arguably good places to live, Ypsi proper is much less bland, and it features houses of all shapes and styles. We’re talking about Dutch Colonial Revival, Greek Colonial Revival, and other forms of architecture influenced by styles from all over the world. To say that Ypsilanti is unique would be an understatement, and the real estate in Ypsilanti township brings a certain sense of nostalgia and sophistication to MI.

 

Reason 2: Bustling Culture and Events

Many of the residential parts in Ypsilanti fortunately maintain that sense of quiet and calm that you would expect but if you head downtown, you’re going to find something different. Holidays and other events often populate the streets of downtown Ypsilanti with vendor tents, staged productions, and much more, giving the area a life all its own. The tight-knit community does far more than just put on a show, it does a great job of making you feel like you belong and that is perhaps the most important thing of all when you are moving into a new place.

 

Reason 3: Amenities Abound

Compared to many of its neighbors, Ypsilanti is a very small city but that doesn’t mean it’s isolated or underdeveloped by any means. Instead you will find that the city has plenty of culture and amenities. From grocery store staples like Kroger, all the way to medical centers and the small-town exclusives. Sidetrack and Aubrees are two great restaurants you can find yourself experiencing and who could forget about The Unicorn Store? What is that exactly? You can only find out by spending some time in the city which you’ll want to do shortly after you buy your home.

 Ypsilanti Michigan House for Sale

Reason 4: Educational Opportunities

If you have children, or if you want to further your own education then you’ve come to the right place. Ypsilanti is home to primary, middle, and high schools that offer top notch education in your area. For yourself, however, you might want to consider Washtenaw Community College which offers education to those seeking their degree for the first time. The icing on the cake here is the University of Michigan which has several campuses, including one in in Ann Arbor, near Ypsilanti. A recently passed resolution by the state has made attendance at the University of Michigan complimentary for all residents. That’s right, you can attend for free up to four years.

 

Ypsilanti is an area brimming with culture and one that you will definitely enjoy living in. It all starts with you purchasing your next home within the township and enjoying everything the area has to offer. Whether it’s enjoying a burger at Sidetrack, an early morning mimosa at Aubrees, or browsing the collection of oddities at The Rocket, you’ll find that you’ve purchased more than just a house, but rather a way of life. Call us today for more information and get ready to settle in.

Posted in Information
March 9, 2019

New Opportunity Zone for Ypsilanti and Wayne County

Commercial RE News:

The new tax legislation from the 2017 "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" includes new opportunity zones targeting distressed and low-income communities with tax incentives for investment.

The Opportunity Zone (aka "O-Zone") includes much of Ypsilanti and Wayne Co.

 

More here: https://www.irs.gov/…/opportunity-zones-frequently-asked-qu…

https://www.nar.realtor/…/background-qualified-opportunity-…

Real estate agents may want to highlight these incentives in both residential and commercial real estate inside O-Zones which they take to market.

March 9, 2019

How to get into real estate sales

According to the Nat’l Assoc of Realtors® 2018 Membership Profile, roughly 86% of all real estate agents are self-employed as independent contractors. About another 5% were employees (probably most of whom are working as licensed assistants for other Realtors®, ISAs, salaried agents or builder’s reps).

Let’s briefly review the primary 3 routes into real estate sales, and also touch on 1 more path which has appeared on the scene more recently due to industry trends involving the culmination of the real estate team:


1. The Solo Agent

The solo agent archetype is someone who has come into the real estate sales field completely alone. The real estate sales profession being roughly a century old, our industry was originally built by and dominated by individual agents. Today’s full-time individual agent has to wear many hats, as not only do they generally serve both sellers and buyers, as self-employed contractors they are also in charge of their own marketing, branding, prospecting, advertising, transaction management, closings, process review, quality control, and any follow-up contact they make with their customers and clients beyond closing. Solo agent runs their own show, motivates themselves each day, and builds their own authority in their marketplace.

Succeeding as a solo agent generally requires a dynamic personality and the ability to work well under pressure, likability, and a level of emotional resilience such that the solo agent won’t be easily deterred by rejection, failure, or other obstacles and delays which will come up along the way. Because of the initial financial and time requirements to get into real estate, the full-time solo agent generally either has savings or investments, an existing pension, or a spouse with income which they can rely on initially because it will usually take them 3 or more months to earn their first commission — and when they have none of these things, they will often have a reason driving them and keeping them motivated such as having children they absolutely must provide a future for, or something from their individual past that is driving them to prove themselves, stay in the game, and not compromise or give up until they have taken the gloves off and tried absolutely everything that they can think of. Today’s solo agent is often active in civics, nonprofits, at church or synagogue, or just a door knocking or cold calling monster. It’s easier for extroverted personalities to succeed as a solo agent, but introverts like myself can still succeed — though they will have to work additionally to teach themselves sales habits and to overcome their fearsq and face any social anxieties.

The solo agent wakes up every morning unemployed. It is scary. Since >75% of real estate agents wash out of the career within 2 years, this is someone who will do whatever it takes to make their career take off.

2. The Assistant

The assistant would most typically be someone younger, or who does not have any financial means (savings, investments, a spouse with an income, or an existing pension) in place for them to have the ability to be a solo agent. There are one or two top agents in my local market (Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti, MI) who began as assistants.

The advantage of coming into real estate sales as an assistant is the ability to earn an hourly wage while you also learn the ropes and get an inside look into the industry, the transaction processes, the marketing, etc. To start, they generally only make $10 — $14/hr, but a seasoned administrator in a higher-producing team or office could earn upwards of $30,000–$65,000/yr in my area, inclusive of any bonuses. Some teams/offices provide a per transaction flat-fee bonus, paid at closing in addition to hourly/salary, which incentivizes the assistant to manage each transaction as an important transaction for them as well. During their hiring process, assistants are generally expected to sign some form of confidentiality agreement or a non-compete agreement which will prevent them from poaching business from the team which they are hired to assist.

Assistants are hourly or salaried employees which are expected to be available, usually in-person at the office, during business hours. Acting as a concierge for the agent’s clients and customers, managing transactions, creating flyers or online ads & social media content, coordinating closings and inspection appointments and loan and title representatives are the primary tasks that assistants will handle.

The majority of the top producing sales teams have assistants handle their sales from contract acceptance to closing and their value shouldn’t be understated.

3. The Buyer’s Agent

The buyer’s agent is someone who is coming into real estate sales by hitching their wagon to that of a more successful agent’s. Teams will recruit buyer’s agents from new licensees, assistants, and existing solo agents who are struggling financially or emotionally to stay afloat in the trade. The last example is how I initially became a buyer’s agent for about a year before going out on my own as a solo agent once again.

The advantage of being a buyer’s agent is simple: Leads. The buyer agent enjoys more of a turnkey business since they receive purchaser leads and showing requests directly from their team without up-front cost. Buyer’s reps enjoy a degree of autonomy, as they are still independent contractors with some flexibility in how and where they spend their time. The buyer’s needs and availability will generally dictate the buyer’s agent’s schedule. Transactional and sales experience are acquired quickly by the buyer’s agent since they’re expected to process and respond to the leads which their teams trust them with — and that can mean several showing tours for several buyers in a short amount of time.

Disadvantages for the buyer’s agent can include showing fatigue and a lot of running around, since working with buyers requires a lot more time and showing appointments than working with sellers. Some buyers agents may still list properties and represent sellers, in addition to buyers, while other teams are more specialized in that they expect buyers agents to stick to their buyers while the team leader or another senior designated agent handles the sellers and listing appointments. The leads which the buyer’s agent receives are generally those which the team leader is either too busy to attend to, or otherwise not worth taking for themselves — often due to the lead’s price point, location, or motivation level or urgency.

One agent’s “extra” leads may be another’s bread and butter. It can only take one relationship, with the right client, to change your trajectory as an agent.

4. The Inside Sales Agent

A relative newcomer to the real estate sales industry, the inside sales agent (ISA or OSA) is someone on a larger sales team whose primary role is lead generation. The ISA is most often paid an hourly plus a commission. Like the Assistant, this compensation model helps the ISA get into the career because they are able to immediately realize an hourly income, usually with some commission on top so as to incentivize them to maximize their time and hone their prospecting & scripting skills over the phone. When the ISA becomes more seasoned, it is common for them to opt to switch into a commission-only compensation model since with their experience they can reliably bring in qualified leads and be paid more off a better commission split than their hourly.

Another advantage of the ISA role is that the ISA comes into the career feet-first into the trenches: By entering into difficult real estate conversations with total strangers which often results in confrontational/stressful conversations. It generally only takes a week or two for a good ISA to realize that some of the most stressful interactions are also the most lucrative. The ISA will sell the team (or the broker) who is also their employer, which may be a lot easier than selling themselves as a brand new solo agent. Data, call lists, and scripts are provided to the ISA as part of their training/orientation which will tell them who to call, what to say, and how to sell their team in order to close listing and buyer appointments and put transactions (and commissions) into that team’s sales pipeline.

Once the ISA has proven themselves as an earner over the phone, the transition from an ISA to a solo agent (who may also generate leads via cold calling and other prospecting methods) becomes a far easier one. A seasoned ISA is a phone animal (A wolf on Main St, if you will) who will always be able to find their next sale.

Inside Sales Agents are the core lead generation component in Michigan’s highest-producing teams. A business is only as successful as the sales and prospecting which powers it.

Downtown Ypsilanti’s Premier Boutique Real Estate Brokerage — 734.272.6612 — MunroPros.com

Munro Real Estate is interviewing experienced solo agents and new & experienced ISAs. We are a small family brokerage committed to doing things differently.

If you’re thinking of entering the real estate trade, let us help you hit the ground running.

734.272.6612 — awmunro@gmail.com — MunroPros.com /apply