Whether you’re buying, selling, or renting a home, a Realtor is your partner in the process. Realtors are local experts who can help you find the right home, negotiate price and terms, and navigate the reports and contracts to close the deal. These are all strong reasons to work with a Realtor. In addition, Realtors are committed to a Code of Ethics, professional development, and consumer advocacy that protects rights and saves money for home owners. So how do realtors help home buyers and sellers? Let’s take a look at what a realtor is.
What’s the Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent?
Every state, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, requires real estate brokers and agents to hold a real estate license. That typically requires a test and preparatory coursework, but the requirements vary. Agents who want to go beyond basic licensing join the 1 million professionals in the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and earn the right to call themselves Realtors. The NAR requires members to train in – and adhere to – a strict Code of Ethics to better represent the interests of customers, the public, and the industry. The NAR also offers continuing education and certifications for Realtors, and it lobbies for the interests of home owners.
Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
Buying or selling a home is a legal transaction and a big financial investment. It’s also a major life decision, affecting everything from your children’s quality of education to your family’s happiness in the community. Home owners need to know they can trust the agent to guide them through that complex decision and treat them fairly and honestly. Even if the customer is a buyer and the Realtor represents the seller.
That’s why the National Association of Realtors instituted its Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The code goes beyond requirements of the law to detail the ethical responsibilities of Realtors to customers, the public, and other real estate professionals. For example, Realtors cannot hide, exaggerate, or misrepresent any facts about the property or the transaction. They must disclose when they have a financial stake in a property. And they must provide the same level of professional service to everyone, regardless of race, religion, handicap, or sexual orientation.
The Code of Ethics has been in force for 100 years, and it’s updated annually to ensure it reflects current social concerns and evolving business practices. Those current aspects include the use of social media in marketing. Every member of the NAR receives training in the code.
Continuing Education, Designations, and Certifications
The real estate field changes constantly, so Realtors freshen their skills and extend their knowledge through continuing education. Realtors can also train for specialized designations and certifications, such as becoming an Accredited Buyer’s Representative or earning NAR’s Green Designation to understand green building and sustainable business practices.
Political Advocacy for Home Owners
Realtors represent the interests of individual home buyers and sellers, while the NAR represents the interests of all home owners through political advocacy at the local, regional and national level. The organization advocates for home ownership (get policy updates at Home Ownership Matters), as well as for issues like tax benefits, affordable financing, stronger support from the Federal Housing Administration for home loans, and tax relief for people distressed by mortgage debt. Realtor®-supported legislation saves home owners an average of $2,144 for the first year of their loan, or $38,936 over the life of the mortgage.*
The Benefits of Working With a Realtor
Nothing’s more personal than your home. When you work with a Realtor, you don’t just want someone to process the paperwork and hand over the keys; you want to establish a relationship with someone you trust. That’s why people often choose a Realtor they already know or one who’s been referred by a friend or relative.
If you’re a buyer, it’s easy to search for homes on realtor.com. But once you have a short list of properties, a Realtor can provide insight — about the neighborhood, the local market, whether the home is correctly priced – as well as expertise in easing you through the legal and financial processes.
If you’re selling a home, a Realtor can do all those same things, plus help you get a higher price. NAR research shows that in 2012, listings represented by Realtors sold, on average, for $40,100 more than homes sold by their owners.
Written by Darren Wilson at The Realty Firm