|Choose a REALTOR® to sell your home
| Choose a REALTOR® to Sell Your Home
Once you've decide to sell your home, finding a REALTOR® is the next step
in the process. In making this
important decision you should understand:
* Who is a REALTOR®
* How to evaluate an agent
* What a REALTOR® will do for you
* Selling on your own
If you’re not in a "must sell" situation (job transfer, career opportunity, family
upheaval, financial hardship), but
rather in an "elective" one, you may want to consider adding on to your
current home (if you need more space) or
refinancing to lower monthly mortgage costs (if finances are a concern).
Who is a REALTOR®?
The terms agent, broker and REALTOR® are often used interchangeably,
but have very different meanings. For
example, not all agents (also called salespersons) or brokers are
REALTORS®. Learn who is a REALTOR® and
the reasons why you should use one. As a prerequisite to selling real estate,
a person must be licensed by the
state in which they work, either as an agent/salesperson or as a broker.
Before a license is issued, minimum
standards for education, examinations and experience, which are
determined on a state by state basis, must be
After receiving a real estate license, most agents go on to join their local
board or association of REALTORS®
and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the world's largest
professional trade association. They can
then call themselves REALTORS®. The term "REALTOR®" is a registered
collective membership mark that
identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and
subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics (which in many cases goes beyond
state law). In most areas, it is the
REALTOR® who shares information on the homes they are marketing,
through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
Working with a REALTOR® who belongs to an MLS will give you access to
the greatest number of homes.
How to evaluate an agent
Without any obligation, you can invite local REALTORS® to visit your home
and give you a "listing presentation"
about why they're the best ones to market it for you. Two to three
presentations will probably give you a good
opportunity for choice. A listing presentation includes having the
REALTOR® review with you the reasons why
you should list with that particular individual, and providing you with
information that will assist you in making
initial decisions about selling your home.
Recent laws in every state have defined the duties of someone specifically
retained as a real estate agent. Most
states require a real estate agent to explain his or her role at the outset of
any conversation. A professional agent
will promptly provide this such a disclosure. Look for an agent who:
Is a member of the local board or association of REALTORS®
Explains and discloses agency relationships (the role of the agent, i.e., who
they are representing--the buyer or
the seller) early on in the process, at "serious first contact"
Advises you on how to prepare your home for the market
Shows some enthusiasm for your property, listens attentively, instills
confidence, operates in a professional
manner, and has a complementary personality style to yours
Has already researched your property in the public records and the MLS
Brings data on nearby homes that have sold (or failed to sell) recently
The following are important questions to ask a potential agent:
Are you a REALTOR®?
Do you have an active real estate license in good standing. To find this
information, you can check with your
state’s governing agency.
Do you belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and/or a reliable online
home buyer’s search service?
Multiple Listing Services are cooperative information networks of
REALTORS® that provide descriptions of most
of the houses for sale in a particular region.
If there's no nearby MLS, how often do you cooperate with other local
brokers on a sale?
What have you listed or sold in this neighborhood lately?
Do you cooperate with buyers' brokers?
What share of the commission will you offer a cooperating broker who finds
And in addition to the criteria mentioned above, there are number of very
important reasons you will typically
prefer to work with a REALTOR®. Among them are the fact that they adhere
to the NAR’s highest standards of
ethical conduct and professional training.
What a REALTOR® will do for you
There are many important reasons to use a REALTOR®. Some of the duties
your REALTOR® will perform for you
* Walking through the process of selling your home from beginning to end
* Providing comparable information about the prices for which other
properties have sold and analyzing data for
you to gain a true comparison
* Supplying information regarding local customs and regulations you may
want to consider
* Sharing information about your home through the Multiple Listing
Service and on the Internet
* Placing advertisements for your home
* Fielding phone calls
* "Qualifying" potential buyers to make sure they would be financially able
to buy your property
* Negotiating the sales contract
* Alerting you to potential risks
* Complying with the disclosures required by law
* Providing you with an estimate of the closing costs you will incur
* Helping you prepare for a smooth closing of the transaction.
Selling on your own
"You can get rid of the broker, but you cannot get rid of the broker's work"
is an old caution for those who intend
to offer their homes "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO). Selling on your own is not
an easy undertaking. It requires a
significant amount of time to study the process, understand your
obligations, and do some of the complicated
work that a real estate agent does. In addition, selling on your own requires
extra help from outside
professionals, such as a REALTORS®, accountants or attorneys for some
of the jobs that require specific
The following are some major pitfalls to avoid:
* As a personal safety measure, only show your house to those
individuals with whom you've made a
prior appointment that's been confirmed by phone.
* Don't price the house so low that it sells too quickly - pay for a market
value appraisal by an experienced
* Hold out for a buyer with written pre-qualification from a lending
* Find out your legal obligations.
If you require only limited services, some REALTORS® will agree to help
with the transaction for a predetermined
fee. You can call real estate companies and ask for the managing broker and
see if they're interested in furnishing