If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, a major step is choosing the right real estate agent to assist you. I am often asked the difference between a realtor, real estate agent, and broker. It’s no surprise people find the designations confusing, so here is a brief explanation of the three roles.
What is a Realtor®?
A Realtor® belongs to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and agrees to adhere to their Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The NAR is the largest trade group in the country, and the Code outlines best practice and a Realtor’s responsibilities to his or her clients, customers, the public, and other Realtors®. A Realtor® pays dues to the NAR and can be either a real estate agent or broker.
What is the difference between a real estate agent and a broker?
A real estate agent has a license to sell real estate in his or her state. There are listing agents who exclusively represent the seller. There are also buyer’s agents or “selling” (not seller’s) agents, who work closely with clients to accomplish their goal of buying or selling a home. Real estate agents always sell real estate on behalf of a broker and cannot work independently.
A broker has completed additional coursework beyond that of an agent and has passed the broker license exam. Real estate agents are required to be employed by a broker, so brokers are typically the ones running the real estate team or office. They’re also responsible for reviewing contracts, escrow transfers, and other paperwork. A broker associate is employed by a broker or large real estate network.
Your real estate agent when you’re buying a home
If you’re buying a home, you’ll select a buyer’s agent to help you through the process. Here’s what you can expect your buyer’s agent to do for you:
- Show homes. Your buyer’s agent will attain a proper understanding of what you’re looking for and will schedule appointments so you can view homes that meet your needs and are within your price range.
- Facilitate an offer. The buyer’s agent assists with an offer on a house of interest. He or she will draw up the contract, interface with the seller’s agent, and perform negotiations on your behalf.
- Assist with the buying process. As new issues come to light, from paperwork to inspection revelations, a buyer’s agent will act as your guide through it all and navigate resolutions as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
- Provide referrals. Your agent can recommend other professionals and contractors you may need to consult in the home buying process including attorneys, home inspectors, and contractors.
Your real estate agent when you’re selling a home
When selling a home, there are standard services you should expect from your real estate agent or broker. Here are some important ones to consider when interviewing potential agents:
- Market Knowledge. Your selling agent should be extremely familiar with the local area, the schools, commuting logistics, and current data for the local real estate market.
- Marketing Plan. Your agent should have a plan to market your home and be able to articulate it to you. He or she should have an established home staging contact in case you choose to stage the house. You should also ensure that you check the real estate agent’s listings and website to get a feel for his or her presence in the market and typical offering price point.
- Track Record. Look at the agent’s track record of selling homes in your area and see whether those houses sold close to or over asking price.
Before choosing your real estate agent
The northern New Jersey real estate market is competitive and fast-paced. The agent you choose must be savvy and experienced. Set up interviews with several agents so you find one that fits your personality and will prioritize your needs. Use the Internet and look at online reviews from clients about any agent you are considering. Your agent should be a true professional with demonstrated success and one who will advocate for you.