Wednesday, October 12, 2011 / by Justin Hoffmann
Many buyers will go it alone. They hit the Internet for their first line of attack in house hunting. They peruse magazines and open houses. But they miss an important key player in their house-hunting mission–the real estate agent.
The real estate agent is not a go-between paper shuffler. Your real estate agent is the connection to the inside world of real estate. Yes, the Internet can provide you with lots of information, but it can't replace a knowledgeable real estate agent.
Finding the best agent who meets your needs is like finding a good friend. I'm not kidding. Having to work with an agent that doesn't understand your needs for housing can result in endless headaches, but working with an expert in the industry takes away the worry and stress, and streamlines the process.
It can be a jungle out there. Navigating through the foreclosures, short sales, and excessive inventory can make some buyers feel overwhelmed. The result? They continue to rent!
If you have the right team of experts surrounding you and looking out for your best interest, you're not afraid to aim high and go after exactly what you want. An agent isn't your cheerleader but is there to help you get precisely what you want and the best deal possible.
The agent has a fiduciary duty to you–to provide trust and confidence. Up to now, we've talked mostly about an agent–a person licensed to sell real estate but is that the same as a REALTOR®? The answer is no. And since the terms are often confused, it's worth taking a moment to explain how the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) defines them.
Both are licensed to sell real estate but REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and are required to follow the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. According to NAR, there are 17 articles in the Code of Ethics and they are strictly enforced.
Here's what is stated in the 2011, Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice from NAR, "The term Realtor® has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations. No inducement of profit and no instruction from clients ever can justify departure from this ideal."
Whether you hire a real estate agent or a REALTOR®, the most important thing you can do is research their background, reputation in the market, and get references. This is likely the biggest financial move you'll make, so taking the time to find information about the agent or REALTOR® you're about to hire is a wise investment.
Visiting real estate offices and meeting with their staff is another good way to explore who will fit with your personality and match your needs. Contacting friends for referrals is a good start, but don't just hire your friend's agent or REALTOR® because the real estate transaction worked out for your friend. Spend a little time to effectively communicate your needs, goals, and desires, and then listen carefully to how the agent or REALTOR® responds.
It may not be a marriage but it's certainly a relationship that could last a lifetime, creating a successful financial situation for all.
by Phoebe Chongchua