The general public seems to believe that real estate agents are all equal. On the contrary, all real estate agents are not the same. This article focuses on the distinction between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent, as well as the advantages you can gain by using a REALTOR® rather than trying to sell your house on your own.
So, what is so special about the title of REALTOR®? In order to be designated as a REALTOR®, a real estate agent must belong to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. As a member of this organization, REALTORS® must abide by a written code of ethics, with consequences similar to disbarment in law and losing a medical license as a doctor. Having been in place nearly 100 years, the code of ethics is annually revisited and updated to meet the needs of our changing society and to ensure REALTORS® follow behavior fitting a professional. So, the main aspect that sets a real estate agent apart from a REALTOR® is this code of ethics.
As a home buyer or seller, working with a REALTOR® should give you peace of mind that you will receive fair and ethical treatment in each instance. As opposed to a behavior code that is simply “understood,” REALTORS® promise to follow this code of ethics, and are held responsible for their actions. In fact, the governing body can subject REALTORS® to punishment if they are lax in following the code.
Although the knowledge that a REALTOR® must adhere to a higher authority is reassuring, there are a number of other advantages to using a REALTOR® in your real estate transaction.
REALTORS have experience:
Having been through the process of buying and selling multiple homes, REALTORS® have a bank of knowledge to rely on and are prepared for any potential surprises or pitfalls that could crop up. Since purchasing a home is often someone’s single largest investment, it just makes sense to rely on a professional to guide you through that process. If someone takes you to court and sues you for $10,000, there’s little question you will hire a professional, like a lawyer, to make sure you hang onto your money. With an investment of 10 times that amount, isn’t a professional worth it?
REALTORS have access to marketing tools:
Although you can run an ad in your local newspaper, REALTORS® have access to a number of other avenues where they can help you appropriately price and market your home. Since immediate exposure is crucial when you are selling a home, pricing and marketing are two of the most important tools at your disposal. If you over-price your home, you could be wasting your time with the wrong potential buyers looking at your home. If you under-price your home, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars and never know it. With access to the local multi-listing service (MLS) databases, REALTORS® have access to all local listings from any agency. Through the MLS service, your home is featured on numerous websites, so your home receives maximum exposure that is not limited to your specific area.
REALTORS® know how to negotiate:
As part of their job, REALTORS® negotiate on a regular basis. During the negotiation process, there are a number of aspects to take into account, making it invaluable to have a professional in your corner. Considering factors like pricing, financing, inspecting, repairing, title issues, fixtures staying with the home, possessions, and human emotions, just to name a few, there are countless areas where a REALTOR® can help you stay on top of the game during negotiations. REALTORS® make sure you receive the best deal for your situation, since they have experience with what it possible and/or realistic.
Additionally, the difference between the selling price of the average “For Sale by Owner” home and the average home sold through a realtor was around $60,000 ($187,200 for FSBO and $247,000 for REALTOR® assisted). Even taking commissions out of the mix, those numbers published by the 2006 National Association of REALTORS® profile of Home Buyers and Sellers further demonstrate the value of using a REALTOR2006 National Association of REALTORS® profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
REALTORS® are motivated:
Most people know REALTORS® don’t get a paycheck unless your home is sold (or the purchase goes through). In other words, it is in their best interest to work with you! Can you imagine a world where lawyers didn’t get paid unless they won your case? Or doctors didn’t get paid unless they cured you? If you work with a REALTOR®, they are used to this reality. Knowing they need to get the deal done to put food on their table is a serious motivational tool for your agent. A horse will run faster if you dangle a carrot in front of it, and the same motivation applies for real estate professionals.