Home Buying Step 2: Choose Your REALTOR®
Real estate is a tough business with a steep dropout rate, and although many people have earned real estate licenses, only a small percentage of them actively help buyers and sellers.
Real estate brokers and salespeople who belong to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) are bound together with a strong Code of Ethics, extensive training opportunities and a wealth of community information. NAR members are routinely active in a variety of community organizations. Active community involvement provides REALTORS® with a better understanding of the area in which they are selling.
Why Use a REALTOR® When You Buy A Home?
Buying and selling real estate is a complex matter. At first it might seem that by checking local real estate magazines or Web sites you could quickly find the right home at the right price. But a basic rule in real estate is that all properties are unique. No two properties - even two identical models on the same street - are exactly alike. Homes differ and so do contract terms, financing options, inspection requirements and closing costs. Also, no two real estate transactions are alike.
In the maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who know the community and much more. Those professionals are the local REALTORS® who actively serve your area.
How Do You Choose a REALTOR®?
Many communities have independent real estate agents and realty brokerages. You can find a local REALTOR® in local advertising, on REALTOR.com® and other Web sites, and by referrals from other agents, neighbors, lenders, attorneys, financial planners and CPAs. Recommendations of past clients can be valuable.
Many buyers interview several REALTORS® before selecting one to work with. These interviews are a good opportunity to consider such issues as experience, track record, market knowledge, marketing approach, professional network, representation, certification and fees.
What Should You Ask a REALTOR®?
- What services do you offer?
- What type of representation do you provide? Different states have different forms of representation: some agents represent buyers, some represent sellers, some facilitate transactions as a neutral party, and in some cases different agents in a single firm may represent different parties within a transaction.
- What experience do you have in my immediate area?
- What is your track record?
- What is your market knowledge?
- What kind of professional network do you have?
- What are your certifications/designations?
- What is your fee? Fees are established in the marketplace and not set by law or regulation. In some circumstances, a buyer agent might ask you for compensation in addition to his/her commission.
- What disclosures should I receive? State rules require agents to provide extensive agency disclosure information, usually at the first sit-down meeting.
What Should You Expect When Working with a REALTOR® to Buy a Home?
Your REALTOR® will explain the options available to you, describe how he or she typically works with individuals and provide you with complete agency disclosures (the details of your relationship with the agent) as required in your state.
Your REALTOR® will work with you to find listings and homes that match your requirements. You will get detailed information on current market conditions, financing options and negotiating issues that might apply to a given situation. But remember that since market conditions can change and the strategies that apply in one negotiation may be inappropriate in another, this information can vary from situation to situation.
During your time in the marketplace, your REALTOR® will keep you updated and alert you to each step in the transaction process. Agents will also help you find a conveyance lawyer, an inspector, as well as recommend other professionals in their network. Your agent will help you understand, evaluate, write and deliver offers and counteroffers.
Your REALTOR®’s expertise and experience is a valuable resource in a complex undertaking of buying a home. Your realtor will help you every step of the way.