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buyer’s agent

Can Home Buyers Contact a Listing Agent for a Home Showing?

June 7, 2019

Can Home Buyers Contact a Listing Agent for a Home Showing?
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It’s bound to happen: You’re browsing real estate listings and one day spot a house you’d love to see in person. Should you contact the listing agent directly for a home showing?

After all, most real estate listings (unless they’re for sale by owner) mention a listing agent, along with an invitation to contact the agent if you’re interested in the property.

If you’re already working with a buyer’s agent, your first move should be to contact this pro—after all, she’s representing you and won’t appreciate your doing an end run around her. But if you haven’t yet partnered with a buyer’s agent, what then?

Here’s how to navigate this stage of the home-buying process.

Can buyers contact a listing agent directly?

Technically—yes. The only people who may frown upon contacting a listing agent are buyer’s agents, who make their commissions based on representing buyers. But there is no law or rule saying a buyer cannot contact a listing agent.

If you’re not actively looking to buy and are just curious about the house, simply be clear about that with the listing agent. Say you’re in the early stages of the home-buying process and haven’t yet employed the services of a buyer’s agent. Ask when the listing agent will be in the neighborhood and would be able to show you the property, says Jane Jensen with Century 21 New Millennium in McLean, VA.

Do buyers need to sign an agreement to see a property?

Touring a property doesn’t require signing any documentation. If a listing agent does ask you to sign something, make sure you thoroughly read it. Most likely it is a disclosure about agency, which is required by some local laws. Agency refers to whom the agent represents—in this case the seller—and expectations you should have of the agent’s professional responsibilities in regard to showing a property.

However, some agents may be asking you to sign an exclusivity agreement saying they represent you—for this particular property, or all properties you might see in the future. This is rare but possible, so you should make sure you’re clear on what you’re signing before you move forward.

Do buyers need to find their own agent to see a property?

Checking out a home doesn’t require representation, says Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers, in Atlanta. The listing agent is usually present at the property simply for the security of the homeowner. Think of it this way: Viewing the property individually is the same as attending an open house. And you don’t need a buyer’s agent to attend open houses.

When do buyers need their own agent?

As a buyer, the option to be represented by an agent is yours. However, if you are actively looking for a home, consider getting a buyer’s agent. The listing agent represents the best interest of the seller, says Michael Chadwick, a real estate agent with Citi Habitats in NYC. While a buyer’s agent represents the best interest of, yep, the buyer.

In most markets, the seller pays the entire commission fee (usually about 5% or 6% of the sale price of the home)—which includes both the seller’s and buyer’s agents’ fees. So by retaining an agent, you’ll have a seasoned professional in your corner who won’t cost you a dime.

“But not having an agent could leave you without invaluable help about negotiating, say, inspections that uncover issues,” says Larry Simons, a real estate professional with Century 21 Maselle & Associates in Brandon, MS.

The post Can Home Buyers Contact a Listing Agent for a Home Showing? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Should You Use the Same Real Estate Agent to Buy and Sell a Home?

May 10, 2019

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When you’re in the middle of selling a home and buying a new one, the question inevitably comes up: Can’t I just use the same agent for both transactions—wouldn’t that make things easier? After gathering expert insight from the pros, we came up with the definitive guide on when using the same agent makes sense, and when it doesn’t.

When should I use the same real estate agent to buy and sell a home?

The answer isn’t cut and dried, we’re afraid: It will all depend on your circumstances. Using one agent for both buying and selling might seem like the easiest solution, but that’s true only if your agent is up to the task on both ends of the sale. This means your agent is comfortable with representing you as both a seller and a buyer, and also that she’s familiar with both neighborhoods.

Licensed real estate agent Alyssa Martin of Nest Seekers International in New York City explains that this is one benefit of working with a bigger company.

“If someone is moving from Chelsea to Jersey City, I’m able to collaborate with someone in Jersey City,” she says.

For bigger moves (e.g., from New York to Florida), agents like Martin can even act as a liaison, helping their seller clients locate a buyer’s agent in the new location.

When should I get two different agents?

Staci Donegan of Seabolt Real Estate, in Savannah, GA, explains that some moves are simply too big for one agent to handle—especially if the agent is focused on one neighborhood and the client is moving out of it.

“In this situation,” she says, “I would help my client find another agent, even interview them. It just can’t be me—because that would be a disservice to the client.”

Pros of working with the same agent

You’ll often hear people offer rave reviews about working with one agent instead of two, and that’s because there are a few potential benefits worth mentioning.

To start, your real estate agent knows you best.

“You have the synergy of working together,” Donegan says. “During the selling process, I know exactly what they love about their house, what they hate about their house—it’s just the perfect transition from the selling side to the buying side. I know what they’re looking for and what’s important to them.”

Another benefit of working with the same agent is the potential to save money when you sell.

“I would cut commission significantly, and I would go out of pocket on marketing costs,” Martin says.

How to determine if your real estate agent can do both transactions

When deciding on which agent (or agents) to work with for your move, it’s important to ask the right questions.

It bears repeating: Make sure your agent is an expert in both neighborhoods involved. And don’t forget to ask whether your real estate professional tends to act more as a listing agent or a buyer’s agent.

“The questions become really important,” Martin says, “like, ‘What areas have you sold in and had buyers in?’ Make sure they have experience on both sides of the process.”

Martin also emphasizes the importance of your real estate agent’s network.

“Relationships with mortgage brokers and closing attorneys are important,” she says. “If you don’t have that, it’s hard to get your client the best deal.”

Another question you’ll want to ask is whether or not the agent has experience working with clients like you. For example, if you’re buying an investment property or you’re in the military and require a VA loan, your agent might have difficulty pulling this off if she hasn’t done it before.

“When working with an agent, make sure they have the skills they need for that transaction,” Donegan says.

If you really like your listing agent and the new home is outside of the agent’s market, you might consider asking her for help finding a buyer’s agent. Since she knows what matters to you better than anyone, she’ll be a great resource in connecting you with the right person.

The final word

Ultimately, there seems to be a consensus that working with the same real estate agent is a good idea—but only when it makes sense for your transaction.

“Things can be easier with less people at the closing table,” Martin says. But the experts also agree on this final point as well: Having two qualified agents is much, much better than having one underqualified one.

The post Should You Use the Same Real Estate Agent to Buy and Sell a Home? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Real Estate Agent, Broker, Realtor: What’s the Difference?

May 8, 2019

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Whether you want to buy or sell a home, you’ll want some help. So who should you hire? Real estate professionals go by various names, including real estate agent, real estate broker, or Realtor®. So what’s the difference?

Sometimes consumers use these titles interchangeably, but rest assured, there are some important differences, as well as varying requirements for using particular titles.

Here’s a rundown of the real estate professional titles you’ll come across, and what they mean.

Real estate agent

A real estate agent is someone who has a professional license to help people buy, sell, or rent all sorts of housing and real estate.

To get that license, states require that individuals take prelicensing training. The required number of training hours can vary significantly by jurisdiction. In Virginia, for example, real estate agents must take 60 hours of prelicensing training, but in California they need to take 135 hours.

Once that training is done, aspiring agents take a written licensing exam. These exams are typically divided into two portions: one on federal real estate laws and general real estate principles, the second on state-specific laws.

Once they pass their exams, they’ve earned the title of a “real estate agent” and can begin working with home buyers, sellers, and renters.

Real estate broker

A real estate broker is someone who has taken education beyond the agent level as required by state laws and passed a broker’s license exam.

Similar to real estate agent exams, each state sets its own broker education and exam requirements. The extra coursework covers topics such as ethics, contracts, taxes, and insurance—at a more in-depth level than what’s taught in a real estate agent prelicensing course.

Prospective brokers also learn about real estate legal issues and how the law applies to operating a brokerage, real estate investments, construction, and property management.

As a result, “brokers have in-depth knowledge of the real estate business,” says Jennifer Baxter, associate broker at Re/Max Regency in Suwanee, GA.

To sit for the broker’s exam and obtain licensure, real estate agents must already have a certain level of experience under their belt—typically, three years as a licensed real estate agent.

There are three types of real estate brokers, each with subtle differences in the role they perform:

  • Principal/designated broker: Each real estate office has a principal/designated broker. This person oversees all licensed real estate agents at the firm and ensures that agents are operating in compliance with state and national real estate law. Like real estate agents, principal brokers get paid on commission—taking a cut of the commissions of the sales agents they supervise (although many principal brokers receive an annual base salary).
  • Managing broker: This person oversees the day-to-day operation of the office and typically takes a hands-on approach to hiring agents, training new agents, and managing administrative staff. (Some principal/designated brokers also serve as managing brokers.)
  • Associate broker: This real estate professional—sometimes called a broker associate, broker-salesperson, or affiliate broker—has a broker’s license but is working under a managing broker. This person typically is not responsible for supervising other agents.

 

Realtor

In order to become a Realtor—a licensed agent with the ability to use that widely respected title—an agent needs to be a member of the National Association of Realtors®.

As a member, a person subscribes to the standards of the association and its code of ethics.

“Essentially, the NAR hold us to a higher standard,” says Peggy Yee, a Realtor in Falls Church, VA. Membership in the NAR also comes with access to real estate market data and transaction management services, among other benefits.

Listing agent

A listing agent is a real estate agent who represents a home seller. Listing agents help home sellers with a wide range of tasks, including pricing their home, recommending home improvements or staging, marketing their home, holding open houses, coordinating showings with home buyers, negotiating with buyers, and overseeing the home inspection process and closing procedures.

Generally, listing agents don’t receive a dime unless your home gets sold. If it does, the typical agent commission is 5% to 6% of the price of your home (which is typically split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent), but a listing agent’s fee can vary depending on the scope of their services and their housing market.

Buyer’s agent

True to their name, buyer’s agents represent home buyers and assist them through every step of the home-buying process, including finding the right home, negotiating an offer, recommending other professionals (e.g., mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, settlement companies), and troubleshooting problems (e.g., home inspection or appraisal issues).

Fortunately for home buyers, they don’t need to worry about the expense of hiring a buyer’s agent. Why? Because the seller usually pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent from the listing agent’s fee.

Rental agent

In addition to helping people buy and sell homes, many real estate professionals help consumers find properties to rent. But what these agents do depends on the location—whether it’s a large city or a small town—and the agent.

Sometimes a rental agent will guide your search from the very start, helping you find the right neighborhood, apartment size, and price range, then go with you to open houses. More likely though, you’ll already have a lot of that information decided, and the agent will send you listings that might be of interest to you.

Once you’ve decided on a rental and have been approved by the landlord or management company, your agent should help you read and understand your lease.

“Most tenants can find a place without a real estate agent, but they forget to seek out someone who can help them understand what they’re signing when they sign a lease,” says Dillar Schwartz, a real estate agent in Austin, TX.

Rental agents will also represent landlords to help them find tenants—but the fee an agent will charge a landlord depends on what market they work in. In many places, the landlord pays the real estate agent to help find a desirable tenant. In more competitive rental markets, however, the tenant may be responsible for the real estate agent fee, sometimes called a “broker fee.” These fees can be as low as $50 to $75 for a credit check or application, but more common rates are one month’s rent or 15% of the annual rent on the apartment.

How to find a real estate agent, broker, or Realtor who’s right for you

Many people find an agent to help them through word of mouth or online. You can search for a variety of real estate professionals in your area at realtor.com’s Find a Realtor database, which includes their sales performance, specialties, reviews, and other helpful information. It’s a good idea to talk to at least three agents in person, and ask the agents some key questions to find out if they’re a good fit for you.

Michele Lerner contributed to this article.

The post Real Estate Agent, Broker, Realtor: What’s the Difference? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.