Have you decided you’re finally ready to upgrade into a new home? Or are you preparing to sell and downsize? Whatever your mission may be, it’s guaranteed that you’ll need a knowledgeable guide to help you navigate the real estate world. A real estate agent is just what you need to get started! Real estate agents can typically assist you in all aspects of real estate, however each has their own specialty. For example, some agents are exceptional at finding the perfect homes for families, while others are well versed in commercial sales.
Each agent has their own style and expertise. You want someone who will listen to your concerns and really knows the market. So how do you find the right real estate agent with your interests in mind? No matter an agent’s expertise, it’s also important to find someone who is compatible with you and the project at hand! There are certain qualifications that any good real estate agent must have to get the job done successfully. Attorney Ben Weaver wants to help you make this process easier!
Check out 23 Legal’s guide to finding the right real estate agent for selling or buying your home…
Let’s start with reviewing some of the necessary qualifications and certifications to look for. “Real estate designations and certifications are additional qualifications that a real estate agent can receive by completing coursework to advance their knowledge and skillset in different areas regarding real estate. Many designations and certifications require prerequisites, including years of experience in real estate, obtaining memberships to individual councils, a minimum amount of transactions or a minimum amount of total sales volume achieved before you can complete the course. Depending on the area in which a real estate agent typically works, they can choose the best certification for them and the audience that they market towards.” Real Estate Express
Did you know that not all real estate agents are actually realtors? In almost every state, a real estate agent must work for or be affiliated with a real estate broker (an individual or a brokerage firm), who is more experienced and licensed to a higher degree. “You can also look up your state’s association and search for their credentials through their site if that’s an option, or call the association and ask for help.” The Mortgage Reports
The Balance shares: “All Realtors are licensed to sell real estate as agents, but not all real estate agents are Realtors. In fact, less than half of all real estate licensees are Realtors. Realtors belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and they pledge to follow the NAR Code of Ethics. This is a comprehensive list that includes 17 articles and underlying standards of practice. The code establishes levels of conduct that are higher than ordinary business practices or those required by law. Only Realtors can display the Realtor logo.”
Due to this major difference, it’s important to know what type of professional you are hiring for this important milestone in your life! Professional agents should always willingly offer you information about their qualifications & certifications. For the most part, their certifications can be found on their website bios or you can simply ask for information on their most updated licenses. This extra measure of research can help protect your finances from possible issues further down the road!
The Mortgage Reports shares: “When you’re buying a house, your real estate agent can be a powerful asset. They’ll show you homes and recommend great finds as soon as they come on the market, while also providing valuable insights and counseling about the buying process. And yet, more than a third of recent buyers say they wouldn’t reuse their last real estate agent.”
What are the differences between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent?
Real Estate Agent: is a professional agent who assists in the buying and of properties. These agents can work with residential or commercial real estate. Each agent has their own speciality. The difference between these types of agents comes down to their primary property zones and clientele. Listing agents focus is to help sell homes. Buyer agents help aspiring first time buyers or home flippers in the pursuit of purchasing a home. Rental agents help people obtain properties to sublet, rent and work with potential tenants within a given area. “The required Illinois real estate pre-license program consists of two courses: Broker Pre-License Topics and Broker Pre-License Applied Real Estate Principles.” Real estate agents must complete this pre-license program for two years before they are eligible to take the real estate licensing exam with PSI/AMP (the state exam administrator). These exams are state administered and require a through knowledge of Illinois real estate rules and regulations.
“Real estate agents usually are compensated completely by a commission—a percentage of the property’s purchase price, so their income depends on their ability to get a deal closed. In almost every state, a real estate agent must work for or be affiliated with a real estate broker (an individual or a brokerage firm), who is more experienced and licensed to a higher degree. Agents who work for the seller, also known as listing agents, advise clients on how to price the property and prepare it for sale, including providing tips on last-minute improvements that can boost the price or encourage speedy offers.” Investopedia
Majority of real estate agents are engaged in residential real estate listing and sales. When homeowners decide they want to sell their homes, they’ll call a real estate brokerage to work with an agent to get their homes listed on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This database is shared among all local brokerage members, who then work to bring in a buyer for the home.
Realtor: is an active member of National Association of Realtors (NAR). Founded in 1908, NAR us the largest trade organization in the US! 65% percent of REALTORS® are licensed as sales agents, 22% hold broker licenses, and 15% hold broker associate licenses. For a realtor to join this organization they must have a valid real estate license and an immaculate professional conduct record. NAR tends to draw great membership due to their good reputation and standing within the real estate community. A benefit of having a Realtor and one that is a member of NAR is their code of ethics. It’s 17 articles long. Here is an example of some of their principles:
- Promote their clients’ interests before their own and treat all parties involved honestly.
- Avoid exaggerating, misrepresenting, or withholding facts about the property or transaction that are within the scope of their real estate license.
- Cooperate with other brokers when it is in their client’s best interest.
- Disclose with their client if they are working with another member of their existing client’s family.
Duties Your Agent is Responsible For:
- Determine the home’s value in the current market for a listing price.
- Advise the homeowner in readying the home for listing and showings.
- Enter the home into the MLS database.
- Market the home to other agents and brokerage members of the MLS.
- Market the home in print, and other traditional media, as well as on the Internet.
- Supervise and/or schedule home showings.
- Report to the seller any interest and feedback from buyers who have seen the home.
- When a buyer makes an offer, help the seller to try to get the price they want and to obtain a signed purchase agreement.
- Coordinate the process from signing the contract to closing the deal, including scheduling inspections, preparing documents and other items necessary to close.
Quick Tip: You don’t have to hire the first realtor you speak with! Shop around and ask questions:
- How long have you been selling homes in this area ?
- Do you have experience selling homes during fall and winter seasons?
- What creative staging ideas have you been recently using to make properties sell during the pandemic?
Are Experience and Reviews Important? The simple answer is yes! There’s a lot that can be said about reading previous client reviews. Many credible real estate websites have showcase reviews under their agent’s names. Those are normally all positive reviews, selected by the agency. To dive deeper into real, unfiltered reviews, we recommend searching:
Why it’s important to read reviews from past clients: Reviews can be extremely helpful when choosing a realtor. These are honest experiences shared by real people. They give you insight that you can’t necessarily find on the realtor’s personal page. Plus, it can save you from a negative experience and wasting money!
What to look for within the review process: When assessing testimonials, look for common statements. Do the former customers say how “kind, fair, fast, trustworthy” the realtor is? These are positives to take note of! Some red flags to look for inside reviews are: agent was rarely on time, hard to reach, or even difficult to communicate with. You don’t want to hire an agent that isn’t able to work with your schedule. If these statements pop up in reviews it’s probably best to pass on that agent.
Using experience to your advantage: Hiring a realtor with years of experience selling/buying within your area gives you a major advantage! Experienced agents have great relationships with local brokers, underwriters, agencies and even real estate attorneys like Ben Weaver. With an extended network and good reputation, the prospect of a smooth real estate transaction goes up exponentially. If you are really unsure about an agent, give attorney Ben Weaver a call. He has a large network of agents he’s been working with for years and is more than willing to give you a recommendation!
“Seek Referrals From Other Homeowners! Despite the technology that seems to take over much of the searching for a home, the right real estate agent is still a human-to-human choice. Referral is best. There’s no bigger compliment to an agent than a referral from a past client. Ask homeowners who they would recommend. If you know the area you want to purchase in or sell your home in, there will be an expert in that area.” Forbes
Personality Traits to Look for in a Real Estate Agent
Active Listening: With all that is happening in the world as of late, sellers and buyers are requesting their realtors be their proxies in numerous situations. Proxy means a person with the authority to represent someone else. Situations like an in-person home viewing for example. An agent can go to a closing for you if you’re not completely comfortable entering multiple properties and meeting strangers during the pandemic. Learn about virtual house hunting and 3D Tours!
Meeting All Your Requests: In addition to verbally sharing the terms that are important to you when making or accepting an offer, for buyers it’s especially important to create a Home Wish List. This list has all of your new home wishes for an agent to look for when reviewing properties. Hence the importance of having the right person working for you that understands exactly what you want in terms of your real estate experience!
Organized and Great Communication: An organized realtor has informative paperwork ready for potential clients to view. They should be prepared during showings, have printouts of information about your home, and provide detailed information gathered for those trying to purchase your property. Hiring an agent who is easy to talk with isn’t just a personal benefit for you, it’s also a plus when others encounter your agent while viewing your property. Good communication makes the experience more enjoyable for all parties involved!
“Pay attention to how the agent is showing the home if you’re thinking about selling. You’re looking for someone who is polite, informative, and who appears knowledgeable. You want someone who hands out professional-looking promotional material about the home. The agent is ideally pointing out features and giving tours, not sitting in a corner, reading a book, and ignoring you.” The Balance
Tech Savvy: Finding a tech savvy and creative agent may be the leg up you need to sell your property. With the added challenge of COVID-19, many agents have stepped their selling game up. Turning to technology to get the job done! You may have to find an agent who knows how to navigate video calling apps like FaceTime, Zoom and even Facebook Messenger. Showing and selling homes virtually are becoming the new norm. Read more about this new digital real estate marketplace!
Up for a Challenge: Selling in a not-so-popular season is another aspect to pay attention to. The real estate market is moving in a different manner due to the coronavirus. During the springtime, many of us were sheltering in place. When summer arrived, many homeowners were not prepared to place their homes on the market or were holding out to see what would happen to interest rates and other selling/buying factors. This means fall and winter are becoming the seasons to sell and buy homes in 2020. Find an agent who can creatively sell your property in this uncommon season. Attorney Ben Weaver previously shared his insight regarding the current climate.
Creative: Maybe your agent has an eye for design? They may add creative elements to open houses, like pumpkin spice scented hand sanitizers or fall leaves decorated shoe covers for walk throughs. These small, fun details will make your home stand out to potential buyers and feel more welcoming! Need more insight on selling your home during the fall? Checkout 23 Legal’s “Proven Tips for Selling Your Home in the Fall”.
Last but not least…you want to find someone who works well with your real estate attorney!
Having the right team on your side could be the difference between having an easy, simple selling/buying experience and having a regrettable, stressful one. Once you’ve hired a credible real estate agent, it’s important to know the difference between the two vital key players in selling/buying your home. Hire a realtor that has a good reputation among real estate attorneys as well. Call a reputable attorney like Ben Weaver once you think you’ve found the perfect realtor for your property.
Do you know the difference between a Real Estate Agent and a Real Estate Attorney? Both of these professionals are responsible for different aspects in the home buying/selling process – and both are necessary for your big move to be a success! Hiring both a real estate agent and an attorney will be beneficial to your overall home buying experience. Each professional brings something important to the table. Learn more about the differences between the two here!
A knowledgeable real estate lawyer can help you with the “hard to translate” legal details and jargon. When selling any property, there’s a lengthy amount of documentation. It’s very important to know what you are reading and signing. While in the beginning stages of selling your home, having a trustworthy attorney by your side for legal advice can protect you from making irreversible mistakes! When multiple buyers send prospective bids on your property, your Real Estate Attorney can send counter offers and help you to negotiate purchasing stipulations. Find out how 23 Legal can keep your move on track!