REALTORS® are licensed real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS®, The Voice for Real Estate®. REALTORS® are the most trusted source for real estate information.
The term REALTOR® is not a generic term; it is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a licensed real estate professional who is a member of NAR. The term REALTOR® is NOT synonymous with “real estate agent.” There are approximately 3.2 million licensed real estate professionals in the United States, and 2.0 million of them are considered “active licensees,” but only 1.2 million are members of NAR. REALTORS® work in both residential and commercial real estate as brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and others engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry.
There are more than 1,400 local associations and boards and 54 state and territory associations of REALTORS®. Members join NAR through their local REALTOR® association.
REALTORS® subscribe to NAR’s strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which aims to protect consumers in the real estate transaction.
The Code stipulates that REALTORS® be honest with all parties involved in a transaction, whether buyer, seller or cooperating agent. The Code requires REALTORS® to identify and take steps to eliminate practices which may damage the public or which might discredit or dishonor the real estate profession. REALTORS® must take a refresher training course on the Code of Ethics every four-year cycle. Real estate licensees who join NAR are required to take orientation classes on the Code.
REALTORS® build communities.
The role of REALTORS® in our communities goes far beyond the real estate transaction process of buying and selling. As local business owners and residents, REALTORS® are vested in building healthy and vibrant communities across the country, neighborhood by neighborhood. As the leading advocates for housing issues, REALTORS® across the country participate in NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program, which provides tools and resources for promoting affordable housing at local, state and national levels. NAR partners with other real estate industry organizations to promote housing opportunities through the HOPE Awards (Home Ownership Participation for Everyone). The awards recognize REALTORS®, individuals and groups who have made outstanding contributions to increasing minority homeownership. The Good Neighbor Awards honor REALTORS® who have made an extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of life in their communities through volunteer work. In addition, thousands of REALTORS® volunteer time and resources in community projects organized by their state and local REALTOR® associations.
REALTORS® add value to the real estate transaction.
REALTORS® handle hundreds, if not thousands, of real estate transactions over the course of their careers, and can counsel and guide sellers through the process.
REALTORS® have the expertise and experience to help sellers protect their investment and help buyers build theirs.
REALTORS® have access to educational opportunities and training in real estate specialties that are not available to other licensees. In these courses, REALTORS® learn to develop skills in guiding clients and customers through the complex real estate transaction process.
NAR offers advanced educational opportunities to its members that allow REALTORS® to offer a more diverse array of services with such accredited sub-specialties as buyer’s representation (ABR®), residential real estate expertise (CRS®), Internet readiness (e-PRO), and senior housing issues (SRES).
Through membership in NAR’s affiliated institutes, societies, and councils, REALTORS® stay abreast of the most recent trends in their fields, remain well-informed of industry developments in their specialized areas, and address industry issues more effectively.
REALTORS® are the leading advocate for private property rights, homeownership and housing issues.
Every year, NAR leads the way on Capitol Hill and in the corridors of Washington to keep homeownership a top national priority.
NAR’s support for the mortgage interest deduction and other federal policies helps keep housing more affordable and makes housing a great investment. Sound housing policies empower home seekers to purchase a home of their own.
REALTORS® care not only about helping people become homeowners, but also making sure families can keep their homes. They are actively engaged in buyer financing education and in pushing legislation that protects consumers in the real estate transaction. Visit www.REALTOR.org/subprime to learn more.
When you're ready to think about buying or selling your property, you need to ask yourself the following questions: Do you have the time, energy, sources of information, and contacts to do the job yourself? If you were one of the 'do-it-yourself' people, would the results be as good or better than they would be if you had professional assistance? Would it have gone smoother? Would it have given you more personal time? Would you have purchased for less, or sold for more, if a real estate agent was involved? Read the following information and learn how a real estate agent can help you understand everything you need to know about a real estate transaction.
The Buying Process
The process of buying a home or investment generally starts with determining your buying power; that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a real estate agent 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.
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. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.
Your job is to make the final selection of the right property for you. This is when excitement and emotion run high. Your real estate agent 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. 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?
There are a myriad of negotiating factors, including, but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should also 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.
With a negotiated agreement in hand, it is time to complete 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 agent can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide 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 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 agent, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.
As soon as you are reasonably sure the property is right for you, the process of obtaining financing begins. Your agent can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.
Closing or Sellement
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. A gain, your real estate agent can guide you through this process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
Selling Real Estate
This process generally begins with a determination of a reasonable asking price. Your real estate agent 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.
The next step is a marketing plan. Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability 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 agent 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. Over exposure 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.
When the property is marketed with the agent help, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Agents will generally pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
The negotiation process deals with much the same issues for both buyers and sellers, as noted above under the buying process. Your agent 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 -- a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
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 agent is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).
Real estate agents or brokers are generally paid through the sales commission paid by the seller when a transaction closes. Agents have expenses and financial obligations just like you, so it will be to your mutual benefit if you choose a real estate agent and stick with that person. The agent will respect your loyalty and respond with a sincere commitment to you.
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 properly called 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.
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 deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®!
Listed here are nearly 200 typical actions, research steps, procedures, processes and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction that are normally provided by full service real estate brokerages in return for their sales commission. Depending on the transaction, some may take minutes, hours, or even days to complete, while some may not be needed. More importantly, they reflect the level of skill, knowledge and attention to detail required in today’s real estate transaction, underscoring the importance of having help and guidance from someone who fully understands the process – a REALTOR®. And never forget that REALTORS® are pledged to uphold the stringent, enforceable tenets of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics in their professional dealings with the public. Not every real estate licensee holds REALTOR® membership. Make sure yours does!
1. Make appointment with seller for listing presentation
2. Send seller a written or e-mail confirmation of listing appointment and call to confirm
3. Review pre-appointment questions
4. Research all comparable currently listed properties
5. Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public records databases
6. Research "Average Days on Market" for this property of this type, price range and location
7. Download and review property tax roll information
8. Prepare "Comparable Market Analysis" (CMA) to establish fair market value
9. Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex lay-out
10. Research property's ownership & deed type
11. Research property's public record information for lot size & dimensions
12. Research and verify legal description
13. Research property's land use coding and deed restrictions
14. Research property's current use and zoning
15. Verify legal names of owner(s) in county's public property records
16. Prepare listing presentation package with above materials
17. Perform exterior "Curb Appeal Assessment" of subject property
18. Compile and assemble formal file on property
19. Confirm current public schools and explain impact of schools on market value
20. Review listing appointment checklist to ensure all steps and actions have been completed
Listing Appointment Presentation
21. Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections
22. Review agents and company's credentials and accomplishments in the market
23. Present company's profile and position or "niche" in the marketplace
24. Present CMA Results To Seller, including Comparables, Solds, Current Listings & Expireds
25. Offer pricing strategy based on professional judgment and interpretation of current market conditions
26. Discuss goals with seller to market effectively
27. Explain market power and benefits of Multiple Listing Service
28. Explain market power of web marketing, IDX and REALTOR.com
29. Explain the work the brokerage and agent do "behind the scenes" and agent's availability on weekends
30. Explain agent's role in taking calls to screen for qualified buyers and protect seller from curiosity seekers
31. Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan
32. Explain different agency relationships and determine seller's preference
33. Review and explain all clauses in Listing Contract & Addendum and obtain seller(s) signature
Once Property is Under Listing Agreement
34. Review current title information
35. Measure overall and heated square footage
36. Measure interior room sizes
37. Confirm lot size via owner's copy of certified survey, if available
38. Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easements
39. Obtain house plans, if applicable and available
40. Review house plans and make copy
41. Order plat map for retention in property's listing file
42. Prepare showing instructions for buyers' agents and agree on showing time window with seller
43. Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and & loan account numbers
44. Verify current loan information with lender(s)
45. Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements
46. Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller
47. Review current appraisal if available
48. Identify Home Owner Association manager if applicable
49. Verify Home Owner Association Fees with manager - mandatory or optional and current annual fee
50. Order a copy of Homeowner Association bylaws, if applicable
51. Research electricity availability and supplier's name and phone number
52. Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills
53. Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system
54. Water System: Calculate average water fees or rates from last 12 months of bills )
55. Well Water: Confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report
56. Natural Gas: Research/verify availability and supplier's name and phone number
57. Verify security system, current term of service and whether owned or leased
58. Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond
59. Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure
60. Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact
61. Prepare detailed list of property's "Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale"
62. Compile list of completed repairs and maintenance items
63. Send "Vacancy Checklist" to seller if property is vacant
64. Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller
65. Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty Application
66. When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale
67. Have extra key made for lockbox
68. Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:
69. Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file
70. Verify all rents & deposits
71. Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled
72. Arrange for installation of yard sign
73. Assist seller(s) with completion of Seller's Disclosure form
74. "New Listing Checklist" Completed
75. Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and provide suggestions to improve salability
76. Review results of Interior Décor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market
77. Load listing into transaction management software program
Entering Property in Multiple Listing Service Database
78. Prepare MLS Profile Sheet -- Agents is responsible for "quality control" and accuracy of listing data
79. Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS Listing Database
80. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy - including proper placement in mapping function
81. Add property to company's Active Listings list
82. Provide seller(s) with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data Form within 48 hours
83. Take additional photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of panoramic Photography
Marketing The Listing
84. Create print and Internet ads with seller's input
85. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other Realtors®. Return all calls - weekends included
86. Install electronic lock box if authorized by owner. Program with agreed-upon showing time windows
87. Prepare mailing and contact list
88. Generate mail-merge letters to contact list
89. Order “Just Listed” labels & reports
90. Prepare flyers & feedback faxes
91. Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability
92. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller's review
93. Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or fliers
94. Place marketing brochures in all company agent mail boxes
95. Upload listing to company and agent Internet site, if applicable
96. Mail Out "Just Listed" notice to all neighborhood residents
97. Advise Network Referral Program of listing
98. Provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks
99. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network
100. Provide "Special Feature" cards for marketing, if applicable
101. Submit ads to company's participating Internet real estate sites
102. Price changes conveyed promptly to all Internet groups
103. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed
104. Loan information reviewed and updated in MLS as required
105. Feedback e-mails/faxes sent to buyers' agents after showings
106. Review weekly Market Study
107. Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale
108. Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing & pricing
109. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database
The Offer and Contract
Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers' agents.
110. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet" on each for the owner for comparison purposes
111. Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer
112. Contact buyers' agents to review buyer's qualifications and discuss offer
113. Fax/deliver Seller's Disclosure to buyer's agent or buyer upon request and prior to offer if possible
114. Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling Loan Officer
115. Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from Loan Officer
116. Negotiate all offers on seller's behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date
117. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer's agent
118. Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company
119. When Offer to Purchase Contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver to buyers agent
120. Record and promptly deposit buyer's earnest money in escrow account.
121. Disseminate "Under-Contract Showing Restrictions" as seller requests
122. Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to seller
123. Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to Selling Agent
124. Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender
125. Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file
126. Advise seller in handling additional offers to purchase submitted between contract and closing
127. Change status in MLS to "Sale Pending"
128. Update transaction management program to show "Sale Pending"
129. Review buyer's credit report results -- Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios
130. Provide credit report information to seller if property will be seller-financed
131. Assist buyer with obtaining financing, if applicable and follow-up as necessary
132. Coordinate with lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates
133. Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer
134. Order septic system inspection, if applicable
135. Receive and review septic system report and assess any possible impact on sale
136. Deliver copy of septic system inspection report lender & buyer
137. Deliver Well Flow Test Report copies to lender & buyer and property listing file
138. Verify termite inspection ordered
139. Verify mold inspection ordered, if required
Tracking the Loan Process
140. Confirm Verifications of Deposit & Buyer's Employment Have Been Returned
141. Follow loan processing through to the underwriter
142. Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale
143. Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track
144. Relay final approval of buyer's loan application to seller
145. Coordinate buyer's professional home inspection with seller
146. Review home inspector's report
147. Enter completion into transaction management tracking software program
148. Explain seller's responsibilities with respect to loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract
149. Ensure seller's compliance with Home Inspection Clause requirements
150. Recommend or assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs
151. Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller's behalf, if needed
152. Schedule Appraisal
153. Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to Appraiser
154. Follow-Up On Appraisal
155. Enter completion into transaction management program
156. Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low
Closing Preparations and Duties
157. Contract Is Signed By All Parties
158. Coordinate closing process with buyer's agent and lender
159. Update closing forms & files
160. Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale
161. Select location where closing will be held
162. Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties
163. Assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc) or in obtaining Death Certificates
164. Work with buyer's agent in scheduling and conducting buyer's Final Walk-Thru prior to closing
165. Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations
166. Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company)
167. Receive & carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy of preparation
168. Forward verified closing figures to buyer's agent
169. Request copy of closing documents from closing agent
170. Confirm buyer and buyer's agent have received title insurance commitment
171. Provide "Home Owners Warranty" for availability at closing
172. Review all closing documents carefully for errors
173. Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested
174. Review documents with closing agent (attorney)
175. Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent
176. Coordinate this closing with seller's next purchase and resolve any timing problems
177. Have a "no surprises" closing so that seller receives a net proceeds check at closing
178. Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable
179. Change MLS status to Sold. Enter sale date, price, selling broker and agent's ID numbers, etc.
180. Close out listing in transaction management program
Follow Up After Closing
181. Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty Company if requested
182. Attempt to clarify and resolve any conflicts about repairs if buyer is not satisfied
183. Respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information required from office files.