Before placing a home on the market or setting out to find the perfect new home, you should identify REALTORS® in your community who can assist with the sale.
Why Use a REALTOR®?
More than two million people nationwide have licenses to sell real estate, of which more than one million belong to the National Association of REALTORS®. Only N.A.R. members are entitled to use the term REALTOR®.
N.A.R. members must adhere to a strict code of ethics. By joining N.A.R., individuals have access to a wide range of classes, seminars and certification opportunities. Local REALTOR® groups are active in community service, economic development, local politics, and other neighborhood organizations.
In essence, local REALTORS® are the community experts. They track real estate trends, share neighborhood concerns and participate in local matters. They’re good neighbors who are in the business of helping others buy and sell homes.
How Do You Choose a REALTOR®?
Whether you’re a first-time seller or someone who is looking to buy your first home, there are several ways to find a local REALTOR®:
- Get recommendations from friends and family members who have bought or sold their properties recently.
- Look for REALTOR® signs in your community.
- Attend open houses and see if you connect with a REALTOR®.
- Call your neighborhood real estate brokerages.
Buyers and sellers have different needs. In some cases, sellers elect to meet with one REALTOR®, while a buyer might elect to test a couple of agents before deciding to work with one exclusively.
Whatever your preference, there will be a number of questions you will want to ask:
What services do you offer?
What type of representation do you provide?
There are various forms of representation in different states. Some brokers represent buyers, some represent sellers, some facilitate transactions as a neutral party, and in some cases different salespeople in a single firm may represent different parties within a transaction.
What experience do you have in my immediate area?
How long are homes in this neighborhood typically on the market?
Be aware that because all homes are unique, some will sell faster than others. Several factors can impact the amount of time a home remains on the market, including list price, changing interest rates and local economic trends.
How would you price my home?
Ask about recent home sales and comparable properties currently on the market. If you speak with several REALTORS® and their price estimates differ, that’s alright—but be sure to ask how their price opinions were determined and why they think your home would sell for a given value. Request a written Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), as well.
How will you market my home?
At listing presentations, brokers will provide a detailed summary of how they market homes, what marketing strategies have worked in the past and which marketing efforts may be effective for your home.
What is your fee?
Brokerage fees are established in the marketplace and not set by law or regulation.The commission is the agent’s rate for handling your transaction. Ask if there are other fees you will have to pay such as a early cancellation fee, marketing fee, MLS fee or any other cost that is not included in the commission rate.
What disclosures should you receive?
State rules require brokers to provide extensive agency disclosure information, usually at the first sit-down meeting with an owner or buyer.
What Should You Expect When Working With a REALTOR®?
Once your home is listed with a REALTOR®, he or she will immediately begin to market your home according to the most appropriate conventions for your community. A REALTOR® keeps you informed as the marketing process unfolds and as expressions of interest are received.
Be sure to specify how you would like to communicate. Some clients prefer emails while others only want to be called or have in-person meetings. Whatever your preference, it is best to outline those expectations upfront so everyone is working with clearly-defined objectives.
The same is true for buyers. Because buyers are constantly meeting with their agent to see properties and give feedback on the properties they’ve already seen, communication is important. If you like to communicate via text message, let your agent know. All forms of communication are not acceptable to everyone. Make sure you have an agent who communicates with you in a way you find acceptable.
Every client should expect professionalism. That means a REALTOR® will always expect you to be on-time, and you should expect likewise from a REALTOR®.
Remember, the REALTOR® is your advocate in the transaction, whether you are buying or selling. Once you have signed up with an agent to represent you, he or she is your face, your voice and your defense against all involved in the multi-layered home buying or home selling process.