Not very long ago, if you wished to look for a home to buy, engaging the services of a real estate professional was the first step. With the advent of the internet, many people house hunt on their own or even attempt to go through the closing process without the assistance of a realtor. Even though the MLS has made it much easier to “DIY”, the services of a Realtor, real estate agent, or a real estate broker are invaluable to home buyers.
You may be confused right now, due to that last sentence. With less advertising and less reliance on realty companies to find homes, many people aren’t aware of the fact that a real estate agent, real estate broker and a realtor are not necessarily the same thing. So what’s the difference, and does it matter?
First, let’s start with what they have in common. All are licensed professionals, trained and certified to sell real estate, who can give advice on home buying. That said, a real estate agent has less stringent standards. Anyone who has earned a real estate license is a real estate agent. A real estate agent is a licensed salesperson, but must work for a broker, not operate independently.
A real estate broker must have a college degree or equivalent experience in real estate, and they must take a longer and more difficult broker’s exam that holds them to a higher standard of knowledge than a real estate sales agent. A broker may work for themselves as an independent agent, or they may hire real estate sales agents to work for them. Brokers are responsible for their agents and must provide oversight for their activities.
All Realtors are brokers or agents, but not all agents and brokers are Realtors. Realtor is an official title that refers to membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR members must pay dues, adhere to a strict ethical code, and answer to a local board. While there are certainly plenty of honest and aboveboard agents and brokers, a Realtor maintains a promise to follow a number of standards governing their conduct and practices that are more extensive and detailed than the state guidelines for agents who hold a real estate license.
Going forward into the future we may see a change in how real estate brokerages, real estate agents, and Realtors operate and sell homes, the same way we have seen a revolution taking place in online mortgages and house-hunting on the MLS. But as real estate is such a high dollar and personal transaction, the need for a human hand and face to face interactions is unlikely to go away.
At Setco Services, we pride ourselves on our ability to implement new technology, such as our secure Paperless Closer, alongside our personal touch and customized title products provided by friendly and helpful local title agents. Whether you have chosen a real estate agent, a broker, a Realtor, or are taking a DIY approach to buy or sell a home, we will be happy to talk with you about what you need to make your closing go smoothly.
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