Why Use a REALTOR®?
Ron Schmeadick, CRB Co-Owner and Associate Broker, Realty Executives, Eugene, Oregon.
Can a REALTOR® really help me in buying and selling property?
When you're ready to buy or sell your property, ask yourself the following questions: Do I have the time, energy, sources of information, and contacts to do the job myself? If I were one of the 'do-it-your-self' people, would the results be as good or better than they would be if I had professional assistance? Would it give me more personal time? Would I have purchased for less, or sold for more, if a real estate agent was involved?
Why A REALTOR®? All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® are REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR "®" logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.
The Buying Process The process starts with determining 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, they can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders -- banks and mortgage companies -- offer limited choices
.Finding Property Once you know how much you can and want to invest, the next step is to find the properties that most nearly fit your needs. This is the time to choose a real estate licensee. When picking a real estate agent look for one who is also a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a real estate trade association, and all members agree to abide by a 17 article Code of Ethics. A REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in that search.
Your job is to make the final selection of the right property for you. This is when excitement and emotion run high. 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?
Due Diligence With a negotiated agreement in hand, it is time to complete the evaluation of the property. This may 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 investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want 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.
Financing As soon as you are reasonably sure the property is right for you, the process of obtaining financing begins. Your REALTOR® can help you understand different financing options and in identify qualified lenders.
Closing or Settlement
Finally, there is the closing, or settlement, as it is known in different parts of the country. Every area has its own unique customs. In some areas, the title or escrow company will handle this process. In other parts of the country, an attorney does it all. Again, your REALTOR® can guide you through this process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
Selling Real Estate
Pricing A seller must first determine a reasonable asking price. 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.
Marketing Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work to enhance the saleability of the property. Marketing includes the exposure of 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.
Advertising is part of marketing. The choice of media and frequency of advertising depends a lot on the property and specific market. For example, in some areas, newspaper advertising generates phone calls to the real estate office but statistically has minimum effectiveness in selling a specific property. Overexposure of a property in any media may give a buyer the impression the property is distressed or the seller is desperate. Your real estate agent 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 and family, and personal contacts.
Security When the property is marketed with a REALTOR'S® help, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. REALTORS® will generally pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
Negotiating The negotiation process deals with much the same issues for both buyers and sellers. 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. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
Monitoring, Renegotiating and Closing 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).
How Do REALTORS® Get Paid?
REALTORS® or brokers are paid from the sales commission paid by the seller when a transaction closes. REALTORS® have expenses and financial obligations, so it will be to your mutual benefit if you choose a REALTOR® and stick with that person. The agent will respect your loyalty and respond with a sincere commitment to you.
Using a REALTOR® - You Be the Judge! Real Estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a real estate transaction without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®!