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What Are the Requirements for General Contractors In Your State?

For years when I saw that someone was a bonded General Contractor, I assumed that they had passed a set of construction-related professional standards set by the state  I think many consumers make the same assumption, but did you know that depending on where you live, this could be completely untrue?

In Washington state, for example, there are NO professional expertise-related requirements for someone to register as a General Contractor.  They do have to meet certain business and residency requirements, have liability insurance, and post a bond of $12,000 (as of December 2012), but here’s what the state of Washington says about the professional qualification part:

Links to pdf pamphlet for WA state general contractor application info.

Washington state General Contractor professional requirements as of December 2012.

Requirements vary widely from state to state.  California, for example, requires four years of experience, or some equivalent combination of technical education and work history.

Since being able to recommend trustworthy service providers is a valuable part of what a real estate agent brings to the table, it makes sense to be aware of contractor requirements in your state.  Here’s a link to a Contractor’s License Reference Site – you can click on the map to go to the database with information about contractor requirements in your state.

Number-of-Days Calculator on TimeandDate.com

Here’s a handy tool you can use when you’re calculating deadlines in your real estate transactions.  It’s TimeandDate.com’s date calculator, which allows you to enter in a date, then choose a number of days, weeks, or months to add in order to come up with a final date.  Here’s an example of what it looks like:

They also have a tool for determining the number of days between two dates – click here for that calculator, or on the image above for the future date calculator.

(Of course, keep in mind that ultimately you’re responsible for determining timelines correctly, regardless of what the calculator comes up with. :))

MarketWatch Helps You Keep Track of Housing Reports

Do you sometimes lose track of when the various housing and economic reports are coming out?  It’s easy to do, but since newspapers start buzzing as soon as the Case-Shiller housing numbers or new unemployment figures are released, it’s good to know in advance what’s coming up.  That’s where MarketWatch.com’s economic calendar page comes in handy.  It shows you the time and date of  each upcoming economic report release, and provides the previous report’s data for comparison.  For example, coming up this week are the Cash-Shiller home price report for January, pending home sales data, and the unemployment rate for March 2011 – all numbers that are likely to affect the real estate market.

Great Real Estate Marketing Pop-By Idea

Looking for a nice way to reconnect with your real estate clients?  At this morning’s office meeting I heard from some agents who are popping by their clients’ homes to say hello and drop off a Hot/Cold thermal bag as a gift.  These bags keep items hot or cold for up to 3 hours, and are great for summer get-togethers and picnics.

Personally I’d be pleased if someone dropped one of these off on my doorstep – I don’t have any, and they look really handy.  You can currently get Hot/Cold thermal bags for just $2.38 each ($119 per case of 50) at the American Bag Company.

Walkscore is a Cool Tool for Agents and Homebuyers

Here’s a good resource for agents working with homebuyers who need to know how close a property is to amenities like shops, parks and libraries.  If you’re in one of 40 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. just plug the address into Walkscore and you’ll immediately see the amenities plotted out on a map around the address.  It also creates a list of each one along with the walking distance, and rates the neighborhood for “walkability”.

Here’s an example:

Screenshot of Walkscore results

With gas prices sky high and the green movement gaining ground, this is probably indicative of a trend in neighborhood review criteria that’s going to grow over time.