What’s with the word REALTOR® in caps? Is it shouting the word? No, not at all. The word REALTOR in all caps, along with the ® symbol is a trademarked term. The typical home buyer or home seller often asks, “What’s the difference between a licensed agent and a Realtor?” That’s a good question. So, what is the difference?
#1 – Adherence to a strict code of ethics
When a real estate agent first gets a license, it is just the first step to starting a real estate career. While there is no law that requires an agent to become a Realtor, becoming one advances an agent’s career with a higher level of knowledge, expertise, and professionalism. If an agent chooses to become a Realtor, the agent joins the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), which has over a million members across the country. Once the agent becomes a member of that group, that Realtor is required to subscribe to a strict code of ethics. This code of ethics reflects a Realtor’s dedication to integrity, fairness, and responsibility, and pledge to protect the interests of their clients. In addition, as part of the code of ethics, a Realtor makes a commitment to take real estate classes beyond what is required to get a license. This greater education includes a study of the code of ethics and additional education to maintain competency in a chosen field of expertise. If you would like to review the entire code and standards of practice, it is available at this link: nar.realtor/about-nar/governing-documents/code-of-ethics/2019-code-of-ethics-standards-of-practice.
#2 – Experts at what they do
The Realtor code of ethics requires competency in the field of a Realtor’s practice. In other words, a Realtor specializing in home sales probably does not have experience in warehouse leasing. While it certainly is possible to do both, a Realtor makes a commitment to become highly competent in a specific field through training or with the help of a mentor before offering his/her services to the public. Today, to buy or sell a home, there are dozens of forms and contracts to complete the sale or purchase. Sure, it might be possible to buy and sell online, as you might buy a fishing pole on Amazon, but since a real estate purchase or sale is likely one of the biggest financial transactions in a client’s life, it pays to consult a Realtor for expert advice on the wide variety of topics and situations that arise.
#3 – Accurate searching power
There are so many ways to search for a home online now. However, many of the online resources don’t update as often or are as accurately as the sources of information that Realtors have at their fingertips. A Realtor also has access to the Realtor’s Property Resource® (RPR). This resource contains a wealth of information on every parcel of real estate in the U.S. In addition to important technological resources, Realtors also have connections and knowledge about the community. Realtors know the neighborhoods in which they work and they learn what properties might be coming on the market, long before these properties are ever seen online.
#4 – Third-Party Negotiating Power
A third-party negotiator can almost always negotiate on your behalf better than you can for yourself. Realtors are trained to negotiate and many Realtors have taken additional classes to obtain the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE) designation in order to serve their clients even better. Any time you are involved in a real estate transaction everything is negotiable, and these negotiations may often become heated. It is critical to have an expert representing your best interests. In addition, negotiations aren’t just about money in real estate. Negotiations can involve inspections, contingencies, dates, and many more items that are agreed to in a purchase agreement.
#5 – Strong Business Network
A Realtor is connected to an entire network of professionals to help make your move easier. As an individual, you don’t have the long-term relationships with the other businesses you need to in order to complete a home sale or purchase. Your Realtor has connections with real estate attorneys, painters, carpet and flooring installers, electricians, plumbers, window washers, radon companies, septic companies, well companies, etc. The list goes on and on. Those connections help you transition smoothly, especially when it is a very stressful time in your life.
#6 – Anticipates Your Needs
When I wrote my book REALTOR® For Life, it was written with anticipation in mind. A “Realtor for Life” anticipates their client’s needs as they move through life. It starts out with helping clients figure out how to save or come up with their first down payment to buy their first home. As time goes on, the Realtor becomes a teacher and trusted advisor by teaching clients how to buy investment property for retirement and a second home, and how to buy real estate using their IRA funds. Then the Realtor coaches clients on how to buy real estate to save for their child’s college tuition and how to buy a home or condo for their children when they go off to college. There are so many things a Realtor can help you with that may have never crossed your mind.
#7 – A “Realtor for Life” is relational, not transactional
In today’s world of home buyer and sellers contacting real estate companies online, it is easy for a real estate agent to fall into the transactional trap. In other words, they catch the lead from the Internet, sell something and then move on to the next sale. A Realtor, however, builds a strong relationship with their client and stays with their clients from their first home to estate planning, and everything in between.
Consult a Realtor today to find out how she or he can help you right now – and also create a plan for your future.
By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career, the vast majority from repeat and referred clients. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail DuaneDuggan@boulderco.com, call 303.441.5611 or visit boulderco.com.