Practical Advice for Selecting a Real Estate Professional
Choose a real estate professional with as much as care as you would a lawyer or doctor. Friends, neighbors and co-workers are often good sources for referrals. Try to find out as much as possible about their home buying or selling experience. What kind of service did they receive? Would they choose this particular agent or real estate brokerage company again?
Upon entering the home search or sale process, be aware that you can choose to have the advice, assistance and representation of your own agent. As a seller, you may authorize your listing agent to cooperate with agents from other firms to help sell your property. These cooperating agents may be subagents who represent the seller or buyer agents who represent the buyer. You may obtain broader exposure for your property by authorizing a listing broker to list your home in the multiple listing service (MLS) and compensate a cooperating agent who successfully procures a buyer.
If you are a buyer you have the option of working with a seller’s agent or a buyer’s agent. The decision you make will depend upon the types of services you desire and the method of compensating the agent. The obligations of both are stated on the Commonwealth’s agency disclosure form, which must be presented to all consumers at the first personal meeting to discuss a specific property. Do not assume that a broker is acting on your behalf unless you have contracted with that broker to represent you.
If you are a seller, part of your selection process may include attending open houses to observe sales agents or brokers in action. Make note of how familiar they are with the property. Did they show the home in a professional manner? Look for sold signs in your neighborhood as well. A REALTOR® with a successful track record deserves consideration.
As a practical approach, talking to real estate agents who have experience selling homes that are a similar style to yours or those that are in the same price range as yours is always a good idea. You can get leads by reading the real estate ads in your local newspaper. Target local real estate companies in particular. REALTORS® who work your area are best equipped to answer questions about schools, businesses, taxes, and other issues of interest to prospective buyers.
Once you've narrowed your choice to two or three professionals, check with the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons (617-727-7376) to ensure that the agent you may work with has an active license in good standing with the Commonwealth, then ask the following questions:
·How long have you been licensed?
·How long have you actively worked in the market area?
·Are you a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and do you work full time as a REALTOR®?
·Have you earned any professional real estate designations?
As a seller, you may also want to ask:
·How many home sales have you closed in the last three months?
·How will you market my home to prospective buyers?
·What is the ratio of sold to asking price for your listings?
·On average, what is the length of time in days that it’s taken for your listings to sell?
When selecting a real estate professional to work with be mindful of the fact that not all real estate licensees are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark which identifies real estate practitioners who’ve joined the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to a strict organizational code of ethics. In Massachusetts, REALTORS® account for the most active 25 percent of the nearly 75,000 brokers and agents licensed to practice real estate in the Commonwealth.
If you have access to the Internet, you can find information about REALTORS® by community and/or professional designation in the “Find a REALTOR®” section of the marealtor.com website.
In the end it comes down to trust. Whether you are a home buyer or seller you have a lot of important decisions to make, and you will be relying on a real estate professional to assist you. Be sure you choose a REALTOR® that you feel has the skills and expertise to give you sound advice.
© 2004 Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®.
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