When you’re ready to begin the home search, you’ll probably look to the pros for guidance – a mortgage lender to understand how much you can afford and a REALTOR® to help you find your ideal home. Many people use REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably, but you may be surprised to learn that there are specific differences between the two types of real estate professionals.
Since a home purchase is one of the biggest financial transactions you’ll make in your life, you want to ensure you’re making a smart decision – and a REALTOR® is trained to help you do just that.
So what is a REALTOR®? The REALTOR® designation means that the individual is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), a professional organization for those in the real estate industry that upholds very high standards. All REALTORS® are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. They serve a similar purpose, to assist buyers and sellers with successful real estate transactions. REALTORS®, however, are held to a higher code of ethics and standards set by the NAR.
What Does a REALTOR® Do?
Similar to a real estate agent, a REALTOR® represents buyers and sellers in real estate transactions and navigates the process from start to finish in order to successfully close the deals. However, a REALTOR® must go a step above to protect the interests of his or her client no matter what the situation, due to the code of ethics enforced by the NAR. Below, we’ll give an overview of what you can expect your REALTOR® to assist you with during the home buying process.
Keep You Informed
One of the most significant benefits of hiring a REALTOR® is the fact that they are filled to the brim with industry knowledge. They are required to stay up-to-date with the latest rules and regulations in the industry via continuing education, so you can trust that they have the expertise to accurately guide you through the process and provide advice along the way. They can also provide valuable data about the local real estate market and give you details about comparable sales in the area when you’re searching for a home.
Help You Find the Best Home
As a homebuyer, you expect a real estate professional to find you a home that meets your requirements when it comes to square footage, number of bedrooms, location, etc. However, there’s often more than meets the eye in a property description. A REALTOR® has expertise that allows them to advise you on the quality of materials used in the home and they can often point out things you should look out for, such as a roof or HVAC system that is nearing replacement age and may factor in your purchase decision.
Protect Your Investment
A REALTOR® always looks out for your best financial interests, as their strict code of ethics holds them to do what it takes to protect you in a real estate transaction. For example, if you’re buying a home, it would be unethical for a REALTOR® to steer you to purchase a home that would provide a financial advantage for themselves if it wasn’t exactly what you were seeking. On the flip side, if you’re working with a REALTOR® to sell your home, you should feel confident that they’re doing everything in their will to properly market your property for a quick and full-price sale.
We’ve talked a lot about the technical support and expertise REALTORS® provide clients, but they’re also human – which means they’re happy to lend an ear and listen to your thoughts and concerns throughout the process.
Let’s face it, buying a home can be downright stressful, but your REALTOR® is there to answer your questions, erase your fears and make the overall home buying experience as positive as possible.
Be Your Advocate
A good REALTOR® not only provides the support you need during the home buying process, but they also go out of their way to protect your interests. Whether it’s negotiating on your behalf during the offer process to get the best deal or showing up for the home inspection and walking through with the home inspector for insight on any potential issues, your REALTOR® will be there to ensure you’ll never regret your home purchase decision.
Ensure the Process Stays on Track
With so many moving parts during the real estate transaction, it would be hard to keep up with it all on your own. That’s where your REALTOR® comes into play. He or she will be a main point of contact (along with your mortgage lender, of course) and will keep you updated on where things are and what your next steps are in the process. When we bought our first home, our REALTOR® stayed in touch on a regular basis, scheduled our home inspection and walkthroughs and alerted us when we should do certain things, such as begin shopping around for homeowners insurance.
In any event, whether you choose to work with a REALTOR® or a real estate agent, you should take the time to interview them and get a feel for his or her personality and commitment to making your homeownership dream a reality. To learn more about the home buying process, visit the Atlantic Bay blog.