Why Using a REALTOR® is Worth Your Time
Not all real estate agents are the same, and not all real estate licensees can be called "REALTORS®." Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They display the REALTOR "®" logo on their business card or other marketing and sales literature, and they do it very proudly. REALTORS® are on a higher level of commitment when it comes to treating all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® follow a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate than other agents. An independent survey reports that 84% of homebuyers would use the same REALTOR® again.
One of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime is a real estate transaction, considering they usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem or a $100,000 legal question, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA or attorney? It would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®, taking into account the small upside cost and the large downside risk.
If you're still not convinced of the benefits of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen more reasons to use one:
1. Buying Power
Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power -- that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. Just give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, and he or she can refer you to lenders who are best qualified to help you. Keep in mind that most lenders -- banks and mortgage companies -- offer limited choices.
2. Financing Options
Your REALTOR® can help you understand different financing options and in identify qualified lenders.
3. Home Search
Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Some available properties are not always actively advertised in the market, so it is beneficial to ask your REALTOR® to do some investigating for all available properties.
4. Property Information
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 and can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, etc. There are two things you'll want to know-will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? And will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are many negotiating factors, including price, financing, terms, date of possession and 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.
6. Evaluation of the Property
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 while providing 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 get caught up in a 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.
7. Closing Process
Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace along with 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.
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. Over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales. In other words, a real estate agent other than yours is the one who brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator by 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.
Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate, however, 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.
Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without jeopardizing 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. Closing the Sale
Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Questions may arise between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), for example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone can be 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.