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How to choose a REALTOR®

Client shaking hands with a Realtor®

Conduct your search for a REALTOR® the same way you would hire someone for a job. Interview several and ask about their training, experience, representation, and professional qualifications. Certifications and designations are earned by many REALTORS® through the completion of specific educational criteria. Each designation, which is conferred by the National Association of REALTORS®, is indicative of a REALTORS® advanced education and experience in a specific discipline. Specialty designations are available to REALTORS® only.

Perhaps the best way to choose a REALTOR® to assist you is to get recommendations from people you know. Visit open houses and watch the REALTORS® in action. Consider local advertising, or scan websites from REALTORS® in your community. Ask for recommendations from lenders, attorneys, financial planners, and CPAs. Also, hearing about the experience of past clients can be invaluable.

Without any obligation, you can invite local REALTORS® to visit your home so that you can receive a “listing presentation.” During this time, ask them to explain why they are the best one to market your home.

Most states, including Florida, require a real estate agent to explain his or her role at the outset of the conversation. REALTORS® should provide the following information, which is called a disclosure:

  • Agency relationships, referring to the role of the agent. Is the agent representing the buyer or the seller?
  • How to prepare your home for the market
  • Information about your property from public records and the Multiple Listing Service, if applicable
  • Data about nearby homes that have sold recently or have failed to sell

A REALTOR® should show enthusiasm for your property. They should listen attentively, instill confidence, operate in a professional manner, and have a complementary personality style to yours as the client.

There are a variety of brokerage business models in today’s real estate industry – full-service, limited service, fee for service, or other – that afford consumers with a greater range of options that ever before. No matter which option they choose, homeowners should understand exactly what services will, or will not, be provided by their choice of REALTOR®/brokerage firm before signing a listing agreement or otherwise engaging the services of a REALTOR® and agreeing to compensation.

Important questions to ask your potential REALTOR®

  • Do you belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?  Multiple Listing Services are cooperative information networks of REALTORS® that provide descriptions of most of the homes for sales in a particular region.
  • What have you listed or sold in this neighborhood lately?
  • Do you cooperate with buyer’s brokers?
  • What percentage will the REALTORS® take in compensation?
  • What kind of service does the REALTORS® firm offer? 
    • There are firms that offer limited services in exchange for an up-front flat fee. Or a firm may offer a menu of pay-as-you-go or a la’ carte options. Some firms may offer a sliding scale ranging from limited to full service. In these cases, the compensation of the REALTOR® is based on the reduced services provided, with the seller bearing full responsibility for all of the other steps and procedures in the selling process, which are normally conducted by a full-service real estate firm.
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About The Author

Marcia Hodgson

A longtime community news and sports reporter, Marcia Hodgson worked for daily and weekly newspapers in Massachusetts, Alaska, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Florida, prior to joining NEFAR as Communications Director. She has a BA degree in political science from George Washington University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Tampa. In her spare time, she enjoys beach combing, reading, traveling, researching her genealogy, and having dinner with friends and family.

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