What is a Real Estate Agent?
Real estate agents are licensed professionals who arrange real estate transactions, putting buyers and sellers together and acting as their representatives in negotiations. They must have a deep knowledge of the market and of the communities in their area, so they can advise their clients on matters ranging from how to accurately price their homes, to when it’s the right moment to make the plunge and buy a new one. Agents also guide buyers toward the homes that best fit their needs by generating a list of properties for sale and accompanying the client to see the properties.
In almost every state, a real estate agent must work for or be affiliated with a real estate broker (an individual or a brokerage firm), who is more experienced and licensed to a higher degree.
So, every real estate broker is a real estate agent (or has been), but not every real estate agent is a broker. How do realtors fit into the equation?
A realtor is a member of the National Association of REALTORS(NAR), a trade association. Both agents and brokers can be realtors, along with property managers, appraisers, and other real estate industry professionals. Realtors are expected to be experts in their field and must follow the NAR’s code of ethics, which requires agents to uphold specific duties to clients and customers, to the public and to other realtors. In addition to NAR, realtors must belong to a state or local real estate association or board.
How a Real Estate Agent Works?
Real estate agents usually specialize in either commercial or residential real estate. Either way, they perform different duties, depending on whether they work for the buyer or the seller. Agents who work for the seller, also known as listing agents, advise clients on how to price the property and prepare it for sale, including providing tips on last-minute improvements that can boost the price or encourage speedy offers. Seller agents market the property through listing services, networking, and advertisements.
Agents who work for the buyer search for available properties that match the buyer’s price range and wish list. These agents often look at past sales data on comparable properties to help prospective buyers come up with a fair bid.
Agents act as go-betweens for the principal parties, carrying offers and counter-offers and other questions back and forth. Once a bid is accepted, agents on both sides often continue to work, helping their clients through the paperwork, conveying communications, advising on inspections and moving, and generally shepherding the deal through to closing.
Find The Best Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents promote themselves with yard signs, online ads, direct-mail postcards and even sponsored public benches. So, cutting through the advertising hype and finding the right agent can be tough.
Still, there are ways to size up an agent’s record — and potential. Check out these seven ways to find a great real estate agent, whether you’re buying or selling a home.
- Talk with agents’ recent clients.
- Check for license and disciplinary actions.
- Ask about professional awards.
- Select an agent with the right credentials.
- Find out how experienced an agent is.
- Look at the agent’s current listings.
- Gauge the agent’s knowledge of the area.