TREC LICENSE # 0303291
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
- 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 met.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Do you cooperate with buyers' brokers?
- What share of the commission will you offer a
cooperating broker who finds the buyer?
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 include:
- 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
- Providing you with an estimate of the closing
costs you will incur
- Helping you prepare for a smooth closing of
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
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 appraiser.
- Hold out for a buyer with written
pre-qualification from a lending institution.
- 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 "unbundled services."