Why Use a Realtor®?

Not every real estate agent or broker is a REALTOR®.  That term and the familiar Block "R" logo are trademarked by the National Association of REALTORS® and can only be used by those are REALTOR® members through their local association of REALTORS®.

While all REALTORS® are state-issued licensees as agents or brokers, the major difference between a "real estate licensee" and a REALTOR® is that REALTORS® have taken an oath to subscribe to a stringent, enforceable Code of Ethics with Standards of Practice that promote the fair, ethical and honest treatment of all parties in a transaction.  Non-member licensees have taken no such oath and are not morally bound to the ethical practices and principles set forth in the REALTOR® Code. 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.

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®.

For that extra measure of peace of mind, ensure the individual seeking to represent you is both a real estate licensee and a REALTOR®.

But if you're still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen more reasons to use one:

1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power -- that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders -- banks and mortgage companies -- offer limited choices.

2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home 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.

3. Your REALTOR® 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?

4. Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad 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 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.

5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during 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 REALTOR® 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 REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

6. Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders./p>

7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

8. When selling your home, your REALTOR® 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.

9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets 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 REALTOR® 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.

10. Your REALTOR® 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, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

11. Your REALTOR® 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 REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. 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 REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).


The REALTOR(R) Commitment

Through it all, the personal and professional commitment of the REALTOR® is to ensure that a seller and buyer are brought together in an agreement that provides each with a "win" that is fair and equitable.

The motivation is easy to understand.  For most full-service brokerages, they receive no compensation unless and until the sale closes.

By contrast, there are firms that offer "limited services" in exchange for an up-front flat fee, or perhaps offer a menu of pay-as-you-go or "a la carte" options.  Some even offer a sliding scale ranging from limited to full service.  In these cases, the compensation of the REALTOR® is based on these reduced service levels with the seller bearing full responsibility for all the other steps and procedures in the selling process.  In short, the marketplace truism is that "you get what you pay for."

A Variety of Choices

The variety of brokerage business models in today's real estate industry affords the homeowner a greater range of options than ever before.

But no matter which option is chosen, before signing a Listing Agreement or otherwise engaging the services of a REALTOR® and agreeing to compensate them, homeowners should understand exactly what services will, or will not, be provided.

The Critical Role of the REALTOR(R)

Surveys show that many homeowners and homebuyers are not aware of the true value a REALTOR® provides during the course of a real estate transaction.

At the same time, regrettably, REALTORS® have generally assumed that the expertise, professional knowledge and just plain hard work that go into bringing about a successful transaction were understood and appreciated.

Many of the most important services and steps are performed behind the scenes by either the REALTOR® or the brokerage staff and traditionally have been viewed simply as part of their professional responsibilities to the client.  But, without them, the transaction could be placed in jeopardy.

Listed below are nearly 200 typical actions, research steps, processes and review stages necessary for a successful residential real estate transaction and normally provided by a full service real estate brokerage and for which they are entitled to fair compensation.

The list is by no means an attempt to set forth a complete list of services as these may vary within each brokerage and each market.  Many REALTORS® routinely provide a wide variety of additional value added services that are as varied and unique as the nature of each transaction.

By the same token, some transactions may not require some of these steps to be equally successful.  However, most would agree that given the unexpected complications that can arise, it's far better to know about a step and make an intelligent, informed decision to skip it, than to not know the possibility even existed. 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 professionals dealings with the public. Not every real estate licensee holds REALTOR® membership. Make sure yours does!


       Make appointment with seller for listing presentation
  1. Send seller a written or e-mail confirmation of listing appointment and call to confirm
  2. Review pre-appointment questions
  3. Research all comparable currently listed properties
  4. Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public records databases
  5. Research "Average Days on Market" for this property of this type, price range and location
  6. Download and review property tax roll information
  7. Prepare "Comparable Market Analysis" (CMA) to establish fair market value
  8. Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex layout
  9. Research property's ownership and deed type
  10. Research property's public record information for lot size & dimensions (if applicable)
  11. Research and verify legal description
  12. Research property's land use coding and deed restrictions
  13. Research property's current use and zoning
  14. Verify legal names of owner(s) in county's public property records
  15. Prepare marketing presentation package with above materials
  16. Perform exterior "Curb Appeal Assessment" of subject property
  17. Compile and assemble formal file on property
  18. Confirm current public schools and explain impact of schools on market value   
  19. Review listing appointment checklist to ensure all steps and actions have been completed
  20. Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projection
  21. Review agent's and company's credentials and accomplishments in the market 
  22. Present company's and/or agent's profile and position or "niche" in the marketplace
  23. Present CMA Results To Seller, including Comparables, Solds, Current Listings & Expireds
  24. Offer pricing strategy based on professional judgment and interpretation of current market conditions
  25. Discuss Goals With Seller To Market Effectively
  26. Explain market power and benefits of Multiple Listing Service
  27. Explain market power of web marketing, IDX and REALTOR®.com
  28. Explain the work the brokerage and agent do "behind the scenes" and agent's availability on weekends
  29. Explain agent's role in taking calls to screen for qualified buyers and protect seller from curiosity seeker
  30. Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan
  31. Explain different agency relationships and determine seller's preference
  32. Review and explain all clauses in Listing Contract & Addendum and obtain seller's signature
  33. Review current title information
  34. Measure overall and heated square footage
  35. Measure interior room size
  36. Confirm lot size via owner's copy of certified survey, if available, or Title Company where applicable
  37. Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easement
  38. Obtain house plans, if applicable and available
  39. Review house plans and make copy
  40. Order plat map for retention in property's listing file
  41. Prepare showing instructions for buyers' agents and agree on showing time window with seller
  42. Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and & loan account numbers
  43. Verify current loan information with lender(s)
  44. Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements
  45. Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller
  46. Review current appraisal if available
  47. Identify Home Owner Association manager if applicable
  48. Verify Home Owner Association Fees with manager - mandatory or optional and current annual fee
  49. Order copy of Homeowner Association bylaws, if applicable
  50. Research electricity availability and supplier's name and phone number
  51. Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills
  52. Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system if applicable
  53. Water System: Calculate average water fees or rates from last 12 months of bills )
  54. Well Water: Confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report
  55. Natural Gas: Research/verify availability and supplier's name and phone number (if applicable)
  56. Verify security system, current term of service and whether owned or leased
  57. Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond (if applicable)
  58. Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure
  59. Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact
  60. Prepare detailed list of property's "Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale"
  61. Compile list of completed repairs and maintenance items
  62. Send "Vacancy Checklist" to seller if property is vacant
  63. Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller
  64. Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty Application
  65. When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale
  66. Have extra key made for lockbox
  67. Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:
  68. Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file
  69. Verify all rents & deposits
  70. Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled
  71. Arrange for installation of yard sign
  72. Assist seller with completion of Seller's Disclosure forms
  73. "New Listing Checklist" Completed
  74.  Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and provide suggestions to improve salability
  75. Review results of Interior Décor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market
  76. Load listing into transaction management software program
  77. Prepare MLS Profile Sheet -- Agents is responsible for "quality control" and accuracy of listing data
  78. Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS Listing Database
  79. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy - including proper placement in mapping function
  80. Add property to company's Active Listings list
  81. Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data Form within 48hours
  82. Take additional photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of panoramic photography
  83. Create print and Internet ads with seller's input
  84. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other Realtors®. Return all calls - weekends included
  85. Install electronic lock box if authorized by owner. Program with agreed-upon showing time windows
  86. Prepare mailing and contact list
  87. Generate mail-merge letters to contact list
  88. Order "Just Listed" labels & reports
  89. Prepare flyers & feedback faxes
  90. Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability
  91. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller's review
  92. Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or fliers
  93. Place marketing brochures in all company agent mail boxes
  94. Upload listing to company and agent Internet site, if applicable
  95. Mail Out "Just Listed" notice to all neighborhood residents
  96. Advise Network Referral Program of listing
  97. Provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks
  98. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network
  99. Provide "Special Feature" cards for marketing, if applicable
  100. Submit ads to company's participating Internet real estate sites
  101. Price changes conveyed promptly to all Internet groups
  102. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed
  103. Loan information reviewed and updated in MLS as required
  104. Feedback e-mails/faxes sent to buyers' agents after showings
  105. Review weekly Market Study
  106. Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale
  107. Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing & pricing
  108. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers' agents.
  109. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet" on each for the owner for comparison purposes
  110. Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer
  111. Contact buyers' agents to review buyer's qualifications and discuss offer
  112. Fax/deliver Seller's Disclosure to buyer's agent or buyer upon request and prior to offer if possible
  113. Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling Loan Officer
  114. Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from Loan Officer
  115. Negotiate all offers on seller's behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date
  116. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer's agent
  117. Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney and/or escrow or title company
  118. When Offer to Purchase Contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver to buyer's agent
  119. Record and promptly deposit buyer's earnest money in escrow account.
  120. Disseminate "Under-Contract Showing Restrictions" as seller requests
  121. Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to seller
  122. Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to Selling Agent
  123. Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender
  124. Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file
  125. Advise seller in handling additional offers to purchase submitted between contract and closing
  126. Change status in MLS to "Sale Pending"
  127. Update transaction management program to show "Sale Pending"
  128. Review buyer's credit report results -- Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios
  129. Provide credit report information to seller if property will be seller-financed
  130. Assist buyer with obtaining financing, if applicable and follow-up as necessary
  131. Coordinate with lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates
  132. Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer
  133. Order septic system inspection, if applicable
  134. Receive and review septic system report and assess any possible impact on sale (where applicable)
  135. Deliver copy of septic system inspection report lender & buyer (where applicable)
  136. Deliver Well Flow Test Report copies to lender & buyer and property listing file (where applicable)
  137. Verify termite inspection ordered
  138. Verify mold inspection ordered, if required
  139. Confirm Verifications Of Deposit & Buyer's Employment Have Been Returned
  140. Follow Loan Processing Through To The Underwriter
  141. Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale
  142. Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track
  143. Relay final approval of buyer's loan application to seller
  144. Coordinate buyer's professional home inspection with seller
  145. Review home inspector's report
  146. Enter completion into transaction management tracking software program
  147. Explain seller's responsibilities with respect to loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract
  148. Ensure seller's compliance with Home Inspection Clause requirements
  149. Recommend or assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs
  150. Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller's behalf, if needed
  151. Schedule Appraisal
  152. Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to Appraiser
  153. Follow-Up On Appraisal
  154. Enter completion into transaction management program
  155. Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low
  156. Contract Is Signed By All Parties
  157. Coordinate closing process with buyer's agent and lender
  158. Update closing forms & files
  159. Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale
  160. Select location where closing will be held
  161. Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties
  162. Assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc) or in obtaining Death Certificate
  163. Work with buyer's agent in scheduling and conducting buyer's Final Walk-Thru prior to closing
  164. Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations
  165. Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company)
  166. Receive & carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy of preparation
  167. Forward verified closing figures to buyer's agent
  168. Request copy of closing documents from closing agent
  169. Confirm buyer and buyer's agent have received title insurance commitment
  170. Provide "Home Owners Warranty" for availability at closing
  171. Review all closing documents carefully for errors
  172. Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested
  173. Review documents with closing agent (Escrow Officer)
  174. Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent
  175. Coordinate this closing with seller's next purchase and resolve any timing problems
  176. Have a "no surprises" closing so that seller receives a net proceeds check at closing
  177. Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable
  178. Change MLS status to Sold. Enter sale date, price, selling broker and agent's ID numbers, etc.
  179. Close out listing in transaction management program
  180. Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company if requested
  181. Attempt to clarify and resolve any conflicts about repairs if buyer is not satisfied
  182. Respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information required from office files.




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