In order to have a hassle-free real estate transaction, it’s crucial that you pinpoint the ideal agent to oversee the process. With so many options out there, how do you find the right person to serve your needs?
Here is how to find the real estate professional for your needs.
First — Should You Choose a Realtor or Real Estate Agent?
While many think that the terms Realtor and real estate agent are interchangeable, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It seems that everyday consumers aren’t as knowledgeable on what the difference is between a Realtor and a real estate agent, or that one even exists.
What’s the Difference? Real Estate Agent vs. Realtor
While agents that carry either title are licensed to buy and sell real estate, there are notable differences between these two types of professionals.
Real estate agents include professionals that are licensed to assist consumers buy and sell commercial or residential property. The agent may do so as either a broker, associate broker or sales professional.
To become a licensed real estate agent, the person must complete a required amount of classes, anywhere between 30 to 90 hours of classroom instruction, and pass a state-issued examination. In addition, applicants must also pass an exam proving their knowledge on national, state and local real estate law, standards and practices.
To maintain a real estate licence, the agent must pay an annual fee and renew the license every one to two years, depending on which state you’re serving. Many states also require agents to complete a specific number of continuing education classes before they can renew their license, to ensure their knowledge stays up-to-date.
What is a Realtor®?
A trademarked term, Realtors differ from real estate agents in a few ways. For one, Realtors are active members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest trade association in the country.
The NAR has been around for more than a century, although Realtors have been officially recognized by the organization for the past five decades. To protect the title from misuse, and to create a standard of real estate transaction quality, the association obtained a copyright and trademark on the term in the 1950s.
While the copyright and trademark has faced scrutiny and challenges, the government has upheld its registration of the title, providing consumers with a way to identify reputable professionals in the real estate industry.
The second biggest difference between a Realtor and real estate agent is the requirements a Realtor must fulfill before being able to join the NAR. To join, the NAR requires that members hold a valid real estate license, be actively engaged in the real estate business, have no record of official sanctions involving unprofessional conduct and have no recent or pending bankruptcy. This gives consumers confidence that their background is spotless and they’ll be more likely to provide you with a better buying or selling experience.
The third biggest difference is the high code of ethics that Realtors pledge to adhere to. According to NAR, the code “is what separates Realtors from non-member real estate agents.”
New members must attend an orientation and agree to abide by NAR’s Code of Ethics & Professional Standards, which outlines duties to clients and customers, the public and other Realtors.
The code consists of 17 Articles, 71 supporting Standards of Practice and 131 explanatory case interpretations.It was founded on the premise of “treat others the way that you’d like to be treated” and specifies that Realtors should cooperate with each other to serve the best interests of clients. To stay up-to-date with the organization’s tradition of excellence, members may be required to complete additional training on the Code of Ethics to stay apart of the group.
Top Three Benefits of Choosing a Realtor
1) A Realtor is a client advocate, the market expert and the negotiating tiger all wrapped up into one independent contractor.
2) Realtors stay on top of rapidly changing market dynamics and pass along their expertise to their clients.
3) A Realtor is an unbiased voice of reason, offering an objective perspective during transactions.
In Summary: Why Use a Realtor?
Although both Realtors and real estate agents must be licensed to sell real estate, the main difference between the two is that a Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors and has been vetted as a high-quality professional in the real estate industry. Because they have pledged the NAR’s Code of Ethics, which includes a comprehensive list containing 17 articles and underlying standards of practice, they are bound to established levels of conduct that are higher than ordinary real estate agents.
How to Find an Realtor that’s Right for You
When it comes time to find a Realtor for your upcoming real estate transaction, here are a few ways to find a reputable, trustworthy partner to help you through the process.
Use the “Find a Realtor” Tool
Head to realtor.com to find Realtors that actively serve your area. With the Find a Realtor tool, users can search and browse through more than one million Realtors throughout the nation.
Ask for Referrals
Perhaps the best way to find your ideal Realtor is through referrals. In order to stay in business, Realtors must have satisfied clients, Those clients should be more than happy to refer their Realtor to their family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. The most successful Realtors put customer satisfaction above all else, which should be reflected in the referral.
Visit Plenty of Open Houses
Many people prefer to interact with their Realtor face-to-face before deciding if they’re the right choice. By visiting as many open houses as you can, you can increase the pool of candidates to choose from. Take the time to chat with the Realtor in charge, collect their contact information and take notes on your impression of him. Additionally, for home sellers, you can gain insight into how they’re showing the house. Are they making an honest effort to talk with visitors, put out snacks and appear knowledgeable? This information could apply when they try to sell your home.
Get Professional Recommendations
As a part of the NAR’s Code of Ethics, Realtors must cooperate with each other in the best interest of the consumer or client. Most Realtors are happy to refer buyers and sellers to associates. There are many different sectors of the real estate industry, and not every Realtor serves each one — in this case, an industry professional can help match you up with someone that serves your unique needs.
Search Online for Agent Listings
With plenty of options online, search listings and browse websites to narrow down the ideal Realtor for you. Be cautious around websites that refer agents to you (often paid for, and not necessarily vetted for quality), Try searching for the top real estate companies in your city, visit their websites and learn more about their company, testimonials, background and portfolio. Any Realtor that’s worth working with will lay-out their service quality in plain view.
Questions to Ask Your Realtor
If you think you’ve found a few good candidates for your upcoming real estate transaction, here are a few questions to pose to the Realtors. This isn’t the time to be bashful!
How long have you been working in the real estate business?
While an experienced veteran is normally the desired choice, a newbie can actually provide some benefits, such as a more open schedule and higher commitment to your account.
Is this your full-time job, or are you a part-time Realtor?
A full time Realtor that isn’t distracted by another job will have a better chance of acting upon those timely opportunities that are crucial to successful real estate transactions.
How many sales have you presided over in my ideal neighborhoods?
The ideal Realtor should have experience buying and selling homes in your ideal neighborhoods. This increases the likelihood of buying or selling at the best value to you.
How long have you been buying/selling in my area?
A Realtor that’s been serving a specific area for many years will know the history of price fluctuations, and can make recommendations on optimal home values. This is especially important for those buying/selling investment properties,
Do you have any vacations or business trips planned?
It’d be a poor choice to choose a Realtor that has any upcoming vacations or business trips. You don’t want to be left out in the cold if you can’t get in touch with him at a crucial moment.
Has a past client ever filed a complaint against you?
Complaints can shed a lot of light into how the Realtor conducts his business.
What are your commission/fee charges?
It’s imperative to ask this upfront, so you know how much money you’ll be spending on his services. Make sure you work that into any budgeting and financing you’re setting up.
How quickly can you buy/sell my ideal home?
When houses sit on the market too long, they start to become toxic. A good Realtor knows this, and will define an optimal timeline for the buying or selling of a home.
What sets you apart from other Realtors in the area?
Look for expertise, not just eagerness. You aren’t hiring the neighborhood kid to rake your leaves.
Need More Information?
Looking for more information about finding the ideal Realtor for your upcoming buying or selling needs? Contact the experts at A.D. Hays Group today! Our licensed Realtors have more than 30 years of experience buying and selling homes in the Minneapolis. Get in touch with us today, and we can match you up with a Realtor who’s committed to your success.