Some Fundamental Questions

Why do I need a real estate agent?

If you are buying a home, it is not mandatory that you have a real estate agent help you out. You can go home shopping on your own. You can also make an offer on a property on your own. However, there are numerous advantages to having a realtor help you out with this task. For example:

A realtor has access to much more properties for sale than you do. For instance, a realtor may have seen homes on the Multiple Listing Service, or may know of places because of sales pitches from other agents. A realtor has likely seen many properties for sale, so he or she can help weed out the ones that don't suit you, and help find the ones that may suit you. Talking to a professional can help you determine the price range of homes you can afford to look at. A realtor can help you make a realistic offer on a property you're interested in. You'll appreciate the help when it comes to filling out paperwork when the actual transaction process begins. Above all, a realtor works on your behalf, and can help you in any rough spots that may arise during the home-hunting and transaction processes.

What is a buyer's agent?

A buyer's agent contracts to represent the homebuyer. His or her duties include showing the buyer properties for sale, presenting an offer on the buyer's behalf, and advising the buyer throughout the real estate transaction process.

What is a listing agent?

A listing agent contracts to represent the seller. His or her duties include marketing the property for sale, negotiating the best offer for the seller, and guiding the seller through the real estate transaction process.

What is the difference between a real estate agent and a realtor?

A real estate agent is involved in the process of buying and selling of real estate. His or her job is to work with the buyer, the seller, or both during the real estate transaction. Not all real estate agents are realtors, and not all realtors are real estate agents. The term realtor refers to a real estate professional who is a member of an international organization called the National Association of REALTORS®, or NAR. Some real estate agents choose to join NAR; others don't. Other professionals who are members of this organization include:

appraisers property managers escrow officers loan officers title representatives salespeople (for example, homeowners insurance salesperson) brokers counselors

Can a realtor represent both parties in a transaction?

Yes, provided this dual role is disclosed to both the buyer and the seller in writing, and provided that both the buyer and the seller agree to this in writing. This type of agreement is called dual agency. In this type of transaction, the agent is more of a facilitator than anything else. He or she will not take sides or advise one side on how to best negotiate with the other, as an agent solely representing one side would do.

How can I find a realtor?

The following are all great ways to find realtors:

Referrals from friends, family, neighbors, co-workers Internet referral services Web sites Newspaper ads Magazine ads Bench advertising, billboards, or other public advertisements Yellow Pages Walking in to a real estate agency and asking for an appointment

What should I look for in a realtor?

A good realtor should meet the following criteria:

Market Knowledge. You want someone who knows what types of properties are for sale, for what price, and in what neighborhood. A good realtor is so well-versed in real estate that by the time you finish describing what you're looking for, he or she should already have a few homes for sale in mind to show you. Neighborhood Knowledge. Choose a realtor who knows a lot about the neighborhood where you're looking to buy. Not only will such a realtor be familiar with homes for sale in the area, but he or she will also be able to provide you with valuable information and statistics about the community, its services, and its people. Strong Listening Skills. You're the one who's going to live in this home, so it's important that your realtor listen to you and show you homes that match your needs. You don't want someone who pushes for his or her own idea of a good home on you. What matters is what you want. Proactive. A realtor who is out actively checking out properties for sale will have a way larger database of knowledge than one who sits by the phone, waits for a client to call, and then starts checking out properties. Go for a realtor who is active and committed to his or her field. Personality. You want your realtor to be friendly, open, honest, and trustworthy. You will spend a lot of time with your realtor as the two of you cruise neighborhoods and check out homes for sale, so why spend all that time with someone whose company you don't enjoy?

How do I know a realtor is right for me?

Ideally, you should interview a few realtors before you settle on the one you like best. There is no magic sign that pops up above a realtor's head, flashing the words, "This is the One!" Rather, it is something you should decide for yourself. If you get a good feeling about a realtor, like their personality, and are satisfied with their knowledge and credentials, then go with him or her. While there are criteria a good realtor should meet, you should always give at least a little consideration to what your gut instinct tells you.