Real Estate Agent, REALTOR®, Real Estate Salesperson, Real Estate Broker, Real Estate Associate Broker. Buyer’s Agent. Listing Agent. While consumers will sometimes use these titles interchangeably in describing a Real Estate professional, it’s important to note that there are differences between the roles of the various professionals, as well as the requirements needed to earn those titles.
A Real Estate Agent is a title that can be used by anyone who has earned a Real Estate License, whether the license is earned as a Real Estate Salesperson, Associate Broker, or Broker. State governments regulate licensing. In Connecticut applicants must complete the “In Classroom” Real Estate Principals & Practices course (60 hours) and apply for and pass the state exam. In addition, they must be sponsored by a Licensed Real Estate Broker.
A REALTOR® (pronounced REAL-tor, as a two-syllable term with emphasis on the first syllable “REAL”, not REAL-i-ter or REAL-a-ter) is a Real Estate Agent who is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, which means that they subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics, and whose members are committed to maintaining the professionalism of the Real Estate business. The National Association of REALTORS® is the largest trade association in the United States, with over 1.1 million members. As part of the National Association of REALTORS®, a REALTOR® is kept well informed about issues that affect the real estate business.
A Real Estate Salesperson is another way to say Real Estate Agent.
A Real Estate Broker must first complete the requirements of a Real Estate Agent. In Connecticut, after they have held an active Connecticut Real Estate Salesperson license for two years, they must then complete the Fundamentals of Real Estate Appraisal Course (30 hours), plus an elective course (30 hours). They must then apply for and pass the state exam.
A Real Estate Associate Broker is a someone that has earned their Broker’s license and has chosen to work under the management of a Broker.
In a Real Estate transaction, you may hear the terms “Buyer’s Agent” and “Listing Agent”. Most likely these roles are held by a Real Estate Salesperson or an Associate Broker, who is acting on behalf of either the “Buyer”, the person that is buying the house (Buyer’s Agent) in the transaction, or the “Seller”, the person that is selling, or listing, the house (Listing Agent). Some Real Estate Professionals focus their business primarily one on aspect of the transaction, either the “buy side” or the “sell side”, most will work with clients that are interested in buying or selling, so their role in the transaction may change dependent on what their client is looking to accomplish with their Real Estate goals.
Whoever you choose to work with in your next real estate transaction, it’s recommended to take the time to interview that agent. After all, regardless of their title, they will be representing your interests in, for most, the largest purchase of their lives.
When you're getting ready to buy or sell a home, there are a lot of things to think about.
Location? Budget? How many bedrooms and bathrooms?
More importantly though, it also is the beginning of a new chapter in a family's life, and can be joyous, overwhelming, and a bit scary – all at the same time.
One of the elements that can cause the most anxiety is picking the right person to help you through the process. After all, buyers will be spending a lot of time with them, and a realtor will be helping them through one of the biggest decisions of their life. Sellers will be entrusting the sale of arguably the most prized possession and hope to net the most amount of money, with the fewest hassles, in the least amount of time.
According the National Association of Realtors, 87 percent of buyers and 92 percent of sellers bought or sold their house through a real estate agent or broker.
There are so many realtors to choose from, how can you possibly decide?
Different home buying websites – like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com – are great places to start to become familiar with the realtors in the areas that you're looking to buy or sell in. The sites offer sales and listing history, biographies, and reviews for the realtors. This information may be helpful in educating yourself on who is available to assist you in your marketplace.
Visiting open houses as you're getting ready to enter the market as a buyer or seller (or both!) is a noncommittal way to meet realtors in person. Their personality, style, and general knowledge about the market will become clear while you're touring the home.
A great indicator of how well they'll follow up and follow through is what happens after the open house. Do they give you a call, email, or text to see how they can further assist you or if you have additional questions about the home that you've visited?
Many find that this behavior is indicative of what they will experience when they hire the agent for themselves. As a seller, you'd want a realtor to be working to follow up with any potential buyer of your home. As a buyer, you'd want a realtor to get back to you to see if this is the house that you'd like to buy, or make themselves available to show you others in the market that might be a better fit.
The National Association of Realtors latest profile of buyers and sellers indicates that we should talk to people we know to get their agent suggestions. In fact, 40 percent of buyers found their agent through the referral of a friend, family member, or neighbor, and another 12 percent used an agent that they had used before. On the seller side, 38 percent found their agent through referrals.
Word of mouth is a great way to hear about other people's experiences with local agents.
Understandably, there are different specialties or niches that an agent may focus on, structures of how agents manage their business, and experience level to consider.
Someone who has a tremendous amount of success in short sales or foreclosed properties may be a better fit for someone who is looking to buy or sell in that situation, for example.
Are you looking for a single agent that manages all aspects of their business, both the buying and selling side, as well as the administrative elements? Or are you looking for more of a team approach where the structure has different people for those different aspects of the home buying process?
Are you looking for someone with a large inventory of buyers and sellers who is very well-known in the area because of this volume, or maybe someone with not as much inventory of clients that allows them to give more individualized attention?
Clearly these are all things to consider, and the good news is that when getting into the market, you have many realtors to choose from to ensure that you get the perfect fit for you and your situation.
No matter how you identify the agents that might be a good fit for you, do take the opportunity to interview them one-on-one to understand the style and approach they use to assist their clients in the sale and/or purchase of their home. Having an idea of what to expect can make the process that much more enjoyable all the way to the closing table.
Instead of buying an existing home, many home buyers opt for new construction.
The perceived value is amplified when the buyer has the mindset that with a "new" home, nothing can go wrong with its structure, systems, or appliances.
New construction, where a buyer may have some input in planning for their specific needs, is appealing for many. A buyer's personality and financial ability may also come in to play when considering building versus purchasing an existing home.
Here are some basics if you're considering new construction for your next move.
While it's true that new construction will have "new" structures, systems, and appliances, things can still break and go wrong. The good news is that most new-builds come with a 1-year warranty to protect the homebuyer if anything fails. To that end, many buyers like to be the "first and only" family to use a oven, refrigerator, or toilet, and new construction will provide that.
Some buyers choose to work with a builder within a development for their new home. Often, the buyer will have some options for finishes and design preferences that are offered by the builder. While these choices and design options may be limited, you may have the ability to choose hardwood floors or carpeted, or three bedrooms or four, for instance.
If you're considering building, another option would be to be more of a do-it-yourselfer in the process. In other words, you'd be the person to purchase the lot, have the site surveyed, hire an architect, hire a builder, etc.
The benefits of this avenue would be that there'd be more flexibility on design and finishes, as well as siting of the house (where the house will be located on the property, what side of the house is facing the sun, etc.). With great freedom, and flexibility, also comes great responsibility. There are a lot of decisions to make with this option, and sometimes that can be pretty overwhelming to a buyer.
Financial ability comes into play in all home buying scenarios, not only new construction. That said, obtaining financing for new construction with raw land can have different qualifiers than new construction in a pre-existing development. More cash may be needed to put down, for instance.
Your personality is a big factor in deciding whether or not to build. How many, and what types, of decisions do you want to be part of in the process, your level of flexibility, and your wherewithal in seeing the process through could make the process a pleasant one, or not, as you build your dream home.
The days are getting shorter, the nights a little longer. Kids are headed back to school. Pumpkin flavored everything has returned.
Fall is in the air, and for sellers getting ready to list – or those that are currently listed and hoping to get some offers – there are many benefits to having your home on the market now.
Listing inventory tends to lighten after Labor Day, reducing the competition in the market. Some simple staging ideas can set your home apart from the rest as you capitalize on the "homey" feeling that the season tends to create, allowing the buyers to imagine your home as the one they choose to hunker down in to ring in the New Year.
Light is the perfect tool to create ambiance, and with less daylight hours, you'll want to be sure to capitalize on all the lighting that your home offers. A well-lit room looks larger and more inviting, so be sure to turn on all the lights in your home prior to a showing or an open house. Remember the exterior lighting, too, as buyers will notice the glow of the lights welcoming them from the street as they drive up to the house.
Scented candles, as a general rule, are a big "no-no" when it comes to home staging because of the aversion to some scents that some buyers may have. You might consider breaking that rule in the fall by lighting a few seasonal candles of the same scent. Fall scented candles, like apple or pumpkin, for many will stir up happy memories of apple picking, leaf raking, or pumpkin carving. Be conservative, and use them in moderation. Though, if there was any season to break the "no scented candle rule," it would be this one.
Creating the overall feeling of "cozy" in the interior of your home is your goal. What says cozy better than extra pillows and soft blankets in the family room, living room, and bedrooms?
Curb appeal offers an equal opportunity for creating a "home sweet home." The exterior of your home is what will entice the buyer to step through the front door in the first place. The season, with its rainbow of foliage, is an excellent backdrop. You can spice up your landscape even further by adding plantings that offer bright foliage and color, such as mums, aster, burning bush, smoke bush, and others that thrive in the cold temperatures and offer great color.
We know that buyers buy on emotion. Creating a cozy, homey feeling in your home is the goal for any home staging, as we want to help the buyer envision themselves living in the home. The season for many already "feels homey," and with some key staging, it can be what sets your house apart from the rest.
Many find the prospect of looking for a new house thrilling. Different neighborhoods, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and square footage are topics that one might begin to investigate. The features of the new home, including granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and wood floors are some that one might include in the search options on the internet. It’s a fun prospect for most, and many will watch their favorite HGTV home-hunting show with a whole new headset. On the other hand, for many the task of obtaining financing might be met with the opposite reaction. The idea for some of taking on a mortgage can be overwhelming and confusing. Many are nervous about the entire loan process and such a large financial commitment. Despite these emotions, it’s important for a home buyer to know for certain what the best type of mortgage product, as well as what budget, best suits their needs BEFORE looking at any houses. Knowing upfront this information will give the buyer confidence during the home buying process and ease the feelings of confusion and overwhelm-sion that many feel.
The first step in the process would be to choose a loan officer or lender. Positive experiences from friends and family in recent home purchases with their lender can be taken into consideration, as well as recommendations from your Real Estate Salesperson who may have several lenders that they have worked transactions on with in the past.
Buyers: after choosing a loan officer or lender, get a preapproval. The terms of preapproval and prequalification often are used interchangeably, yet they are very different from each other. With a preapproval the lender gives a written commitment of financing after obtaining from the potential buyer bank statements, several year’s tax returns, verification of employment, and credit check. While the process doesn’t take a substantial amount of time, it does take more than its prequalification counterpart. A prequalification is a lender’s prediction based on income and debt that the buyer shares with them, yet the lender probably doesn’t verify. The risk with obtaining prequalification versus preapproval is that because there is usually no actual verification of what the buyer shares with the lender, going down this road will often lead to surprises in the future once a buyer formally applies for a mortgage. After obtaining preapproval from a lender there will still be a handful of conditions to meet before funds are released, including submitting an accepted purchase and sale contract to the lender, satisfactory home appraisal, and others, which we’ll explore in more detail later. A lot of the upfront work that causes many buyers angst, though, has been completed.
The next step in the process would be to decide what you want to pay and the selection of a type of loan product. While a lender will decide what you can borrow and with which loan products are available to you, the buyer ultimately decides what they can afford. Most lenders are very careful in their calculations, though they may not completely understand the subtleties of your spending habits and lifestyle and what actually fits the family budget. It’s wise for most buyers to leave room for the unexpected, and all the new opportunities to spend money that will surface once you own your new home: new furnishings, landscaping, and repairs, for instance.
Working with a Real Estate Salesperson to find the best house for the family, a buyer will make an offer on a home to the seller. Once an offer has been accepted by a seller, the signed offer will be submitted to the lender as an accepted purchase and sale contract. This will initiate an appraisal of the home, which must be worth at least what the buyer and seller have agreed to, and have no bank required repairs. Other conditions to obtaining funding would be an acceptable homeowner insurance binder, continued creditworthiness, and in some case depending on the financing, proof of acceptable home inspection. Title commitment occurs when all contingencies have been met. Financing is obtained at closing, when the documents are signed for the bank with a promise to repay.
When looking to buy a house, having a preapproval from a lender will help to ease the anxiety that many feel during the home buying process. Knowing what a buyer is approved to borrow, and what is affordable for them, narrows down the search from the hundreds of houses that a buyer may consider, to those that they can confidently walk in and say, “Hey, we can really buy this. Let’s put in an offer and get that much closer to move-in day.”