"When You're Serious About Real Estate Education"

Extreme Makeover - Real Estate Style Scholarship Opportunites Atlanta - Fastest Growing Metro Area
Do You Use Your Credit Card? Online Education - Will It Work For You? AREA to Host USPAP Instructor Recert. Course
Mortgage Fraud Home Inspectors - Scheduling Business Appraisal Myths
Link Exchange With AREA FMLS - Lock Box Access
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Professional E-Mail, Domain and Website for $129!
Say “Goodbye” to Yahoo, Google, BellSouth, or AOL
Extreme MakeoverYou asked for it – You got it! You need help setting up your website and establishing a true business image, AREA can assist. Now you will have no excuse for conducting business with an un-professional sounding email address. Stop advertising Yahoo every time you send an email. Instead, advertise YOUR business by using a professional email address.

AREA will be announcing soon that it will be providing its students with a professional email address at “” and a professional brochure website – all for just $129. With new plans by AREA you will be able to select your domain name and email address – both will be owned and controlled by YOU! The email address will be your PERMANENT email address and can be used with any internet service provider – so you will never have to change email addresses again.

As a separate service, website hosting can be provided. AREA has a small monthly website hosting fee of $12.95 per month, but you can use what you are presently using or choose any hosting service. So, if you are currently – do yourself a favor and give your professional image a boost and become

If you want more than a basic package, AREA will have Student Business Plans with as many as 100 email addresses at as well as more robust websites to choose from. Watch for details in an email announcing the new plans later this month.

If you want to be one of the first to get in on this or if you have any questions – send an email to and let him know you are ready for an Extreme Makeover.

April '07 Back to Top

Appraisal Myths
The truth shall bring you profits
AREA administrators receive a large number of phone calls each day from individuals interested in becoming real estate appraisers. It is amazing to find so many callers misinformed as to what is necessary to become an appraiser and what appraisals may be performed. Many callers identify other schools as the source of the misinformation and some say the Appraisers Board is the source of the misinformation.

Regardless, let clear up some of these issues by identifying some of the erroneous beliefs as they apply to the Georgia Appraiser Classification Act.

Myth #1 – Appraisers need college degrees.

Appraisers do NOT need college degrees in Georgia. Appraisers do need to be honest, reasonably intelligent, somewhat analytical, and decent communicators – but it is NOT necessary to be a college graduate. Wouldn’t it be better to be a college graduate? Not necessarily! A person raised around construction might adapt to appraising better than a molecular scientist with a Ph.D. from Harvard. A person with experience in retail sales and marketing would have a clear advantage over a Ph.D. teaching Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism at Swarthmore College.

Do some appraisal classifications require some higher education? Absolutely! But isn't it reasonable to require a supervising appraiser to have knowledge and coursework in each of the following disciplines:

1) English composition (so you can efficiently and correctly communicate your appraisal report),
2) Economics (to allow a better understanding of the factors causing changes in value)
3) Finance (understanding real estate finance is important to understanding value),
4) Higher mathematics (appraisers use fractions, decimals, percentages, and the three factor formula – 7th grade algebra – who doesn’t need a refresher there?),
5) Statistics (appraising is drawing conclusions about all the properties in a market based on sampling of just a few of the properties in the market – that is statistics),
6) Basic computer applications (typing, word processing, appraisal software, converting documents to pdf, and transmitting reports over high speed access are all skills required by today’s appraisers), and
7) Business or real estate law (knowledge of the principles of real estate and common knowledge about taxes and contracts are fundamental to appraising).

Although an understanding of the subject matter in those courses would benefit any appraiser, higher level courses are only required for advancing licensure to Certified Residential or Certified General appraiser. A person can make a career out of being a Registered or Licensed Appraiser which requires NO college courses.

Myth #2 – Registered appraiser must work for someone else and have a senior appraiser “review and sign” their appraisals.

All appraiser classifications in Georgia can be employees of someone else or they can be self-employed. A registered appraiser, just like any classification, can own his (or her) own business and “hang out” a “shingle” identifying himself (or herself) as real estate appraisers. The misunderstanding arises from the need a registered appraiser may have to work jointly with a supervising appraiser (who is certified) if the registered appraiser wants to complete an appraisal involved in a federally related transaction. Many registered appraisers have developed working arrangements that allows the registered appraiser to take assignments involved in federally related transactions. The certified appraiser supervises the registered appraisers work to be sure it is compliant with the regulatory rules and co-signs the appraisal indicating as such.

The registered appraiser may otherwise have their own appraisal business – often times working it in conjunction with some other real estate specialty such as a real estate licensee

Myth #3 – Registered appraisers can only appraise houses.

A registered appraiser can appraise any property in the state of Georgia – regardless of zoning and regardless of value as long as the registered appraiser has the necessary knowledge and experience for the assignment – and, the appraisal will not be used in a federally related transaction. A registered appraiser can appraise a single family home in Valdosta or the Marriott hotel in downtown Atlanta. The only limitation is if the appraisal is going to be used in a federally related transaction – if that is the case, then the appraisal must be performed by a licensed or certified appraiser or the registered appraiser must be supervised by an appraiser with the appropriate classification.

April '07 Back to Top

Scholarships for Real Estate Sales Pre-License Course

Have you considered becoming a real estate sales person but dragged your feet? Perhaps having someone help pay for your course would move you to begin earning those commissions a little sooner. Interested candidates have scholarship opportunities at two brokerage firms. In partnership with America’s Real Estate Academy, these Brokers will pay $200 of the course fee for students who enroll in the AREA real estate sales pre-license classroom course.
Jay Cole Realty

Jay Cole Realty – a growing Atlanta firm is actively seeking new agents. Veritta Henderson, representing Jay Cole Realty (JCR), s agressively seeking to increase JCR’s sales staff this selling season.

Veritta would like to interview and meet with potential scholarship candidates. Successful individuals will receive financial education assistance towards the 75-hr state mandated real estate sales person classroom courses provided by AREA. To speak with Veritta and to learn more about this opportunity contact Ms. Henderson at 678-987-4381 or email her at

America’s Real Estate Associates, Inc. is looking for new agents and will offer scholarships to help offset the cost of the real estate license course. The scholarship is in exchange for a commitment from the student to work at least the first full year of licensure as a real estate agent for AREA Brokers.

AREA Brokers offers its agents Quick Start Training for New Agents, the post license course, continuing education courses, a free website, and commission splits as high as 95%. If you, or someone you know may be interested, contact the managing Broker, Dick Viti at 770-591-5552 or email directly to

This is a great opportunity – if you know someone who has been thinking about getting a real estate license – this is the time to act.

April '07 Back to Top

Atlanta - Fastest Growing Metro Area in the Nation
More Agents, Appraisers, and Home Inspectors Needed!
According to the Census Bureau, metro Atlanta’s population surged almost 900,000 between 2000 and 2006 – making it the fastest growing in the nation. The metro Atlanta area has maintained this torrid growth rate of adding between 400 and 500 people a day since the mid 1990s when the Summer Olympics supercharged an already expanding economy. What does this mean to you – besides more traffic? Well, it also means more business opportunities.

With such a high influx of new residents who have not yet established local business relationships, this becomes a perfect opportunity to develop your reputation as a real estate professional. Whether you are a real estate agent, appraiser, or home inspector – take advantage of this phenomenal growth to elbow your way into these very lucrative fields.

April '07 Back to Top
Do You Use Your Credit Card?
Well, So Do Your Clients and Customers!
If you are not taking credit cards – you may be taking unnecessary risk with payments and even worse – you may be losing business. Real estate appraisers and home inspectors can expect sales to increase by taking payments by credit cards. Your competition is taking credit cards and you need to take them too.

If you think that establishing an account is a lot of trouble or that the costs are high, let AREA introduce you to the service we use. This is the simplest, easiest, and least costly service we were able to find and they are located right here in Alpharetta. We have been so pleased with the service the last five years that we have partnered with them to offer our students this low cost merchant account.

With a merchant account you will be able to receive payments through your website or process electronically all payments you receive over the phone or in person. The service includes all credit cards, debit cards, and on-line checks. This company caters to small business and offers AREA students:

  • Free Setup
  • Free Application
  • Free Technical Support
  • Free Shopping Cart Software
  • Free Internet Check Software
  • Free Search Engine Submission
You can complete the application online in about five minutes – no paperwork. You can start accepting credit cards in less than 24 hours. Be sure to use this link to to expand your business by adding convenience to your list of services for your customers.
April '07 Back to Top

Online Education – Will it work for you?
There is no doubt you can benefit from a good instructor in a traditional classroom setting, allowing immediate feedback for questions, networking with other students and focused subject matter. But there are times when online course work is your best option, such as when an appraiser waits till the last day of their renewal month and magically has to have 14 CE hours completed on a Sunday. You have probably never procrastinated but if you did, online is the way to go.

To get the most out of your online courses, whether you are just starting out to become a Georgia licensee as an appraiser or a real estate salesperson, or need to satisfy educational requirements for post-license, continuing education, or license advancement we have prepared some tips. If you have a license in another state, AREA now offers online real estate education for appraisers, real estate agents and home inspectors nationwide at

General Online Tips:
  • Set aside a block of time - The most important item to remember is this is a course, so treat it like one! Too often students do not complete their course because of distractions and they became frustrated. What course can you walk out in the middle of and handle the laundry? If you set aside focused blocks of time that are convenient for you, even if your schedule calls for 1 to 4 am, you will succeed.
  • Use AREA's online resources - AREA has developed and posted online reference documents to help you as you progress with your online course. The Online Student Materials section provides homework guides, exam study guides, practice problems and other valuable information for Real Estate and Appraisal courses. The Online Student News section offers helpful updates regarding online courses access, technical support hours and phone numbers, and course access links.
  • You have access to an instructor - Questions, but there is no teacher? Yes there is. If you have subject matter that you can’t grasp, send an email to Depending upon your question an administrator and/or instructor will get back to you. Technical questions should go to the appropriate tech support department.
  • Turn off Pop-up blockers - these will affect your course, make sure pop up blockers are turned off.
  • Preferred browser - Internet explorer is the recommended browser to access the course.
    Wired connection more reliable - Wireless may seem more convenient than hard wire but could cause downtime and frustration. Students may experience connectivity issues and will need to connect directly to the internet.
  • Wired connection more reliable - Wireless may seem more convenient than hard wire but could cause downtime and frustration. Students may experience connectivity issues and will need to connect directly to the internet.
  • New Exams Required - Per new IDECC appraisal regulatory rules, appraisal online CE courses now require a final exam that must be completed and passed in order for the course to be certified to the state. Final exams are at the end of the course. Some courses, since they are primarily real estate, can sneak around the appraisal exam issue.
Dearborn Courses:
  • Upgraded systems in July 2006 - Dearborn improved servers and features. Students received information that to access their course they must now log into the link. If you have not used your course in a while and have an access problem, or if you forgot your login info, contact AREA and we can assist you.

  • Tech Support - hours have changed - 24 hours a day 7 days a week
Thomson CompuTaught Courses:
  • Writing Contracts – the Real Estate 6-hr CE course has been updated with the new 2007 contracts.
  • Tech Support - hours (EST) have changed – Mon-Thu: 9am - 9pm; Fri: 9am - 6pm; Sat: noon - 4pm (On call); Sun: 2pm-8pm
April '07 Back to Top

AREA to Host National USPAP Instructor Recertification Course
The Appraisal Foundation has "Georgia on its mind" for the USPAP Instructor Recertification Course. America’s Real Estate Academy, Inc. is proud to be working with the Appraiser Qualifications Board to bring this event to Atlanta in August.

Nationally Certified USPAP instructors must take a recertification course every two years to maintain their USPAP teaching credentials. If you are a USPAP instructor and interested in taking this course, please contact for more detailed information. Courses have a maximum attendance limit and the courses fill-up. Although the details are not confirmed yet for the August class and this has not been advertised anywhere, over twelve instructors from four states have asked to register.

Information about becoming a Nationally Certified USPAP instructor can be obtained from the Appraisal Foundation’s website.

April '07 Back to Top

Mortgage Fraud
Two Appraisers Among 10 Defendants Found Guilty of Mortgage Fraud
Atlanta, GA - After an eight week trial, a federal jury today returned guilty verdicts against ten defendants charged with multiple counts in a mortgage fraud scheme that targeted the Atlanta metro housing and condo market from 2000 through part of 2003. The verdicts returned March 14, 2007 included guilty verdicts on charges of loan fraud, wire and mail fraud, and money laundering.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of the verdicts, “The monetary loss calculated to date is in excess of 41 million dollars but we expect it to be significantly higher when we conclude our work. More importantly, this monetary loss, as great as it is, does not fully capture the loss to the many neighborhoods and condominium communities that have been gutted of their value due to this one fraud scheme. These guilty verdicts condemn the corrupt actions of the key people who were responsible for this fraud scheme, from crooked attorneys and appraisers, to loan officers, to the man at the top, Phillip E. Hill. The verdicts in this case take us one step closer to repairing the corroded cornerstone of a large-scale corrupt housing market that has made the metro Atlanta area one of the most active mortgage fraud locations in the nation.”

Rebecca A. Sparkman, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, said of the case, “Mortgage fraud adds to the underground economy that erodes the integrity of our tax system and threatens the financial health of our communities. Mortgage fraud is a serious offense and the punishment must be as serious as the crime."

The ten defendants found guilty today of participating in this conspiracy include: MARCUS C. ALCINDOR, a/k/a “Christopher Alcindor,” 42, of St. Lucia, convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering; BARBARA BROWN, 34, of Marietta, Georgia, convicted of conspiracy and two counts of wire fraud; FRED FARMER, 59, of Roswell, Georgia, convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering; PHILLIP E. HILL, 49, of Blounstown, Florida, convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering; CHRISTINE LAUDERMILL, 40, convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering; ROBERT POWERS, 45, of Cumming, Georgia, convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering; LESLIE RECTOR, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia, convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering; DAVID THOMAS, 46, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, and money laundering; DEAN THOMAS, 42, of Atlanta, Georgia, convicted of conspiracy and money laundering; and DAVID VAN MERSBERGEN, 46, of Atlanta, Georgia, convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, and money laundering.

In addition to the defendants found guilty today, several other individuals pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud charges related to the same scheme before trial. These defendants include: WILLIAM CHAVIS, 45, of Atlanta, Georgia; JEREMY DERCOLA, 29, of Douglasville, Georgia, MICHAEL FLAKE, 31, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; WESLEY GOLDEN, 57, of Atlanta, Georgia; CHRISTOPHER HALCOMB, 45, of Cumming, Georgia; WENDELL HIGGS, 42, of Suwanee, Georgia; CORTNEY JACKSON, 49, of Detroit, Michigan, WAYNE JENKINS, 49, of Atlanta, Georgia; RASHID MUHAMMAD, 36, of Syracuse, New York; JULIAN PEREZ, a/k/a “Tony Perez,” 49, of Roswell, Georgia; BRANT PETREE, 23, of Marietta, Georgia; THEODORE TAGALAKIS, 36, of Atlanta, Georgia; and ANDREW WOLF, 45, of Alpharetta, Georgia.

CHERYL DENNY, 42, of St. Lucia, and JAMES MOSS, 49, of Roswell, Georgia, were acquitted in directed verdicts by the court before the jury began its deliberations.

The trial of two remaining defendants, RILEY GRAHAM, a/k/a “Riley Williams,” 39, of Detroit, Michigan, and ANNETTE SPEAR, 50, of Union City, Georgia, is tentatively scheduled for April, 2007.

CHRISTOPHER BAKER, 40, whose last known address was Canada, and CARL BEST, 42, of New York City; are both fugitives and are being sought. Anyone with information on these defendants is asked to call IRS-Criminal Investigation.

According to Nahmias and the evidence at trial: PHILLIP E. HILL was the owner and operator of “We Build Atlanta, Inc.,” “The Estate Firm, Inc.,” “Estate Artistians of Georgia, Inc.,” “Estates Atlanta, Inc.,” and numerous other Georgia corporations. HILL controlled the affairs of each such corporation. HILL held himself out to be a real estate developer, and either individually or through one or more of the corporations he controlled, purchased, and sold numerous residential properties in the Atlanta area. HILL oversaw the conspiracy, loan fraud, wire and mail fraud, and money laundering activity related to mortgages obtained in the sale of over 50 homes and over 250 condominiums in eight Atlanta-area condominium complexes. These properties were all owned at one time by one of the PHILLIP HILL entities. Each property was sold at an inflated price to a “straw purchaser” who applied for a mortgage loan based upon the inflated price. Such a fraudulent transaction is called a mortgage “flip.” The straw purchasers who participated in these mortgage flips were paid a kick-back out of the excess loan proceeds for the use of their name and credit. The victim-lenders granted the loans based upon numerous false representations and documents regarding the credit qualifications of the straw purchaser, as well as false representations that the straw purchaser had paid a down payment, would reside in the home, and would be responsible for the loan payment. In addition, the lenders were induced to make the loans based on fraudulently inflated appraisals. Some of the properties were “flipped” more than one time.

Evidence at trial showed that the primary leaders of the complex fraud scheme were PHILLIP HILL and LESLIE RECTOR, closely assisted by DAVID VAN MERSBERGEN. HILL alone received over $14 million in profits from the scheme. PHILLIP HILL was taken into custody after the jury verdict of guilty.

The appraisers who created the fraudulent appraisals used in the scheme were JULIAN PEREZ, who pleaded guilty before trial; and FRED FARMER, and BARBARA BROWN, who were convicted in this trial. According to the evidence, appraisers were paid both their scheduled fees and received separate direct payments from HILL.

The loan officers, who provided the fraudulent loans to the victim lenders, included WAYNE JENKINS, THEODORE TAGALAKIS, BRANT PETREE, WENDELL HIGGS, MICHAEL FLAKE and WESLEY GOLDEN, all of whom pleaded guilty before trial. Loan officer ROBERT POWERS, as noted above, was convicted of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering by the jury today. Evidence at trial showed that the loan officers received excessive fees for processing the fraudulent loans.

HILL was convicted of paying kickbacks to “recruiters” who found “straw borrowers” for the scheme. The recruiters convicted at trial included CHRISTINE LAUDERMILL and DAVID and DEAN THOMAS, who all received hundreds of thousands of dollars in the scheme. WILLIAM CHAVIS and RASHID MUHAMMAD were also recruiters, who pleaded guilty before trial. According to the evidence, DAVID and DEAN THOMAS, and DAVID VAN MERSBERGEN also served as “straw borrowers” who received additional kickbacks for lending their credit to the scheme.

As part of the fraud scheme, two attorneys were previously convicted of mortgage fraud for submitting fraudulent documents, and at property closings, facilitating the distribution of the monies to the co-conspirators. Attorneys CHRISTOPHER HALCOMB, of Cumming, Georgia, and ANDREW WOLF, of Alpharetta, Georgia, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud.

According to evidence at trial, the losses in the fraud exceed $41 million.

The defendants will be sentenced in July 2007 before United States District Court Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr.

For this story and other press releases visit the website of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Please report mortgage fraud to Assistant US Attorney, Gale McKenzie in Atlanta at 404-581-6045; Georgia’s Attorney General’s Office at 404-656-3300; and the District Attorney where the mortgage fraud took place.

April '07 Back to Top

Inspector AdvantageHome Inspectors – Scheduling Business

“At the sound of the tone, please hang up
and call my competitor.”
In today's competitive market you need to be one step ahead of your competition... while still keeping your personal life intact. Inspector Advantage offers a revolutionary, web-based solution to professional telephone customer service with agents that understand (and can truly sell) your home inspection services, freeing up the most valuable asset you have – your time!

Inspector Advantage has a FREE demo on their website so you can test drive the program for yourself. For a limited time AREA students can try the service for 6 months at half price. Call Stephen Bentley at 1-866-870-7050 or visit for more information.

April '07 Back to Top

Appraisers and Home Inspectors losing Lock Box Access
FMLS recently changed its policy requiring non-agents (appraisers, home inspectors, termite inspectors, etc) who will now be required to have CBS (call before showing) access to properties. Unrestricted lock box access for non-agents will no longer be available.

This is a very positive change brought about by several recent incidents where people gained improper access to properties. One such situation recently occurred in Cherokee County. FMLS will also increase fees for non-agents and require additional insurance coverage.

No longer will non-agents be able to access any house at any time. Now each access will have to be provided by the sales agent to any non-agent support person.

The solution for the appraiser, home inspector, and termite inspector is for the non-agent to become an agent. AREA has always encouraged students to learn all three major fields of real estate – this is one more reason for non-agents to expand their business horizons.

April '07 Back to Top

Link Exchange with AREA
If you have a website, and if you don’t we can help you, a good way to increase search engine recognition is to have other websites link back to yours. AREA is actively promoting link exchanges with students. We can offer over 20 links to your website if you agree to display links to AREA's sites.
To utilize this important tool for promoting your website, here is what you need to do.

  • First, create a links page for your website where you can promote agents, real estate schools, lenders, home inspectors, professional organizations, or anything else related to your real estate business. To view a sample links page, check out one of AREA's.
  • After you have your links page created, send an email to to indicate you are ready to link to AREA websites.
  • You will receive AREA links along with a brief description of each site to include on your links page. When you have the AREA links posted on your website, email your link(s) and site description(s) to so your links can be posted on the AREA's websites.

Help your clients find your website on top!

April '07 Back to Top

America's Real Estate Academy, Inc.
6199 Hwy 92, Ste. 108, Acworth, GA 30102
770-591-5552 * 888-883-9720