1. REALTORS® Are Real Estate Specialists Not all real estate professionals are created equally. There are approximately 2.3 million licensed real estate professionals, but only members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) can call themselves REALTORS®. NAR, with its membership of over one million brokers and agents, provides a strict Code of Ethics to standardize professional behavior, and it offers advanced educational opportunities to its members, enabling them to offer accredited sub-specialties such as buyer's representation (ABR,) residential real estate expertise (CRS,) or Internet readiness (e-PRO) to the public.
2. REALTORS® Lower Your Risk When you have a REALTOR® as an advocate, you share some of the risk of home buying with your agent. Otherwise, it's "buyer beware". Incredibly, many states do not have laws or regulatory bodies in place that protect homebuyers in many situations. If you have a REALTOR® as your advocate, he or she will make recommendations that will assure that you are buying a home that is safe, environmentally sound and priced fairly according to the current marketplace.
3. REALTORS® Work For You At Their Own Risk Can you name another profession that will go to work for you on a contingency basis? Or without a contract? Even attorneys charge by the hour except for some high-risk law suits. You don't typically pay for any services up front with an agent and that is because agents are paid on the back end by the lender's proceeds. When you think about it, that's an incredible endorsement that your lender is willing to finance your brokerage fees. That means you and the seller have no out-of-pocket expenses. Therefore, it's in your agent's best interest to work quickly, diligently, and use all his or her resources to help you meet your goals, or there is no payday. But don't be surprised if your agent asks for a commitment from you in the form of a contract. Wouldn't you do the same if your time and money were on the line?
4. REALTORS® Understand The Current Market Real estate professionals have invaluable house-by-house, street-by-street, and market-by-market experience which can't be learned overnight. REALTORS® who have weathered the pendulum swing between buyers' markets and sellers' markets know that the real estate market can turn abruptly. Rising and falling interest rates affect the number of available homes for sale and their prices within weeks or days. All it takes is the entrance or exit of a major employer, and hundreds of homes in a neighborhood can be affected. As neighborhood experts, experienced brokers and agents can help you with home buying strategies and proposals that will get the right house at the best price and terms.
5. REALTORS® Have Inventory Do you want to find a home quickly? With a REALTOR® by your side, you will. According to The National Association of REALTORS®, over four-fifths of existing homes in the United States are represented by real estate brokers. So are 70 percent of new home builders and their products, according to NewHomeNetwork.com. REALTORS® cooperate with each other through an organization called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that allows them to share their current inventory with each other. Your agent can also show you homes outside of the MLS inventory, including for-sale-by-owner homes, new builder homes, and institution-operated homes. However, no REALTOR® can be expected to show you this unqualified inventory without a representation agreement that assures him or her of being paid at closing.
6. REALTORS® Have Information You Don't Have MLS data entry can take from one to 10 days, depending on the listing agent, his or her broker, and the rules and technology of the MLS. By the time the home is posted on the Internet, it could already be sold, so when you shop for homes on the Internet, you may not be seeing the most current inventory. That's why clever agents network with each other. Your agent will tell other agents about you and your wish list in exchange for information about upcoming homes for sale which are not yet in the MLS or the Internet. Many homes are bought and sold this way without a sign ever going into the yard. If you want to be the buyer positioned to make first and best offers on these desirable homes, hire an agent and be willing to go under contract. If an agent has found out about a home for sale that has not been listed, whom do you think he or she will tell first - you, or a buyer who is committed to him or her by contract? Again, commitment works both ways.
7. REALTORS® Understand The Complexity Of The Transaction Less than a decade ago, a home could be bought with a two-page contract. Now consumer-mandated seller's disclosures, environmental and structural reports, and other legal documents have turned the home transfer into a potential minefield. REALTORS® work with contracts daily, and can fully understand which points are harmful and/or beneficial to you. From helping you make a reasonable offer, to providing for the discovery and disclosure of material facts, your agent can also correctly interpret information for you. If you found out the neighbor next door to the house you are buying is building a new fence, would you know to get a new survey ordered? Your REALTOR® will make sure that the new fence doesn't encroach on your new property.
8. REALTORS® Work For You ... And The Transaction Your agent not only represents your interests but also works on behalf of the transaction. Does that seem like a conflict of interest? It isn't. Buyers and sellers are natural adversaries. You want to buy for the least price, and the seller wants the most. Agents must be skilled negotiators to keep pride, ignorance, or stubbornness from getting in the way of a fair deal for both sides. As the buyer, remember that you are the one in control. You can instruct your agent how far to go in negotiations on your behalf. One day, you'll be glad your agent helped you keep your cool when the seller refused to leave that old chandelier.
9. REALTORS® Offer Flexible Services The more risk you ask your agent to take, the higher the fees on the back end (closing) will be. Also, the more your broker serves as your advocate, the more you can expect to pay. New ideas are coming to the real estate industry that allow the consumer to pick and choose real estate services based on what brokers offer in the marketplace. Some offer only full-service brokerage services. Others offer menu services and are paid accordingly. If you want to save some money, be prepared to pay more fees along the way and to shoulder more responsibility.
10. REALTORS® Are Homeowner Advocates Do you like the idea of deducting your mortgage interest from your income tax? Paying no capital gains when you sell your home up to $250,000 if you are single and $500,000 if you are married after living in it only two years? If so, you can thank the only lobbying group in the nation that looks out for the interests of homeowners - The National Association of REALTORS®. Every year, the REALTOR® PAC perches on Capitol Hill and swoops down on legislators who try to overturn these generous government-sponsored homeowner benefits. The result is well worth it. These initiatives keep housing more affordable and make them better investments, enabling more buyers than ever before to move into a home of their own. Thanks in part to REALTORS®, more than 67 percent of the population are enjoying the benefits of owning a home. So keep in mind that every time you put a REALTOR® to work, you are working to keep your homeowner benefits in place.
Still Not Convinced? But if you're still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen more reasons to use one:
1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power - that is, 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
4. 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 and 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.
5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this 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.
6. Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.
7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show 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.
11. 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.
12. 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).