Choosing your agent could be the most crucial element of the home buying and selling experience. This is where it is important to realize the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®. While an agent is simply licensed by their state to do business, a REALTOR® has taken the additional steps to become a member of the local board of REALTORS® and has agreed to act under and adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. This membership obligates them to be fair to all parties involved in a transaction.
It may seem tempting to try to sell or buy your home without using a real estate professional. But by using a REALTOR®, you have the advantage of information and knowledge through what can often be a complicated and confusing procedure.
With so many resources available, a REALTOR® may be able to help you come out with the same amount of dollars or more than you could command by selling your home yourself.
But if you’re still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen more reasons to use one:
- Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power. Your buying power is determined by analyzing your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders – banks and mortgage companies – offer limited choices.
- Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.
- Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you’ll want to know: first, will the property provide the environment you want for a home or investment; and second, will the property have resale value when you are ready to sell?
- Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors – including but not limited to – price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
- Your REALTOR® can provide due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, due diligence could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR®can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.
- Your REALTOR® can help you understand different financing options and identify qualified lenders.
- Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
- When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
- Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR®markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.
- Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. A NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® study showed that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
- Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing – a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
- Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).
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