A qualified, competent real estate agent will help you navigate the myriad of decisions that arise when buying and selling a home. An agent provides value to the homeowner in many ways:
- Pays for all marketing and advertising costs.
- Adds experience and expertise in all aspects of the sales process including marketing, financing, negotiations and more.
- Handles all showings.
- Brings a network of known, trusted real estate professionals. If your agent doesn't have the answer, he or she likely knows someone who does.
- Always has your interests in mind so you always have someone on your side.
- Can handle and advise on all price and contract negotiations.
- Provides you with all the possible options and opportunities without holding back.
- Gives an unbiased, realistic view of your home and your options. Unlike buyers and sellers, an agent has no emotional attachment to property.
- Has the knowledge to help you ask the right questions.
- Being a third party, potential buyers are more likely to tell your agent the truth about your home, even if it is unflattering. This objective viewpoint will help you make the necessary changes to get your home sold.
- Your time is valuable. A real estate agent allows you to spend your time how you want.
The REALTOR'S® Critical Roll
In the Real Estate Transaction
Surveys show that many homeowners and homebuyers are not aware of the true value they receive in the services of a Real Estate Professional or Realtor® provides during the course of a realestate transaction. At the same time, Realtors® have generally assumed that the expertise, professional knowledge and just plain hard work that go into bringing about a succesful transaction were understood and appreciated. Many of the most important services and steps are performed "behind the scenes" by either the Realtor® or the brokerage staff and have been traditionally viewed simply as part of their professional responsibilities to their client. But, without them, the transaction could easily be placed in jeopardy.
Listed on the following pages are nearly 200 typical actions, research steps, processes and review stages necessary for a successful residential real estate transaction and normally provided by a Full Service real estate brokerage and for which they are entitled to fair compensation.
Completeness of the List
This list is by no means an attempt to set forth a complete list of services as these may vary within each brokerage and each market. Many Realtors® routinely provide a wide variety of additioanl services that are as varied as the nature of each transaction. By the same token, some transactions many not require some of the steps to be successful. However, most would agree that given the unexpected complications that can arise, it's far beter to know about a step and make an intelligent, informed decision that it is not needed, than to not know the possibility even existed.
The Realtor® Commitment
Through it all, the Realtor's® personal and professional commitment is to ensure tht a seller and buyer are brought together in an agreement that provides each of them a "win" that is fair and equitable. Their motivation is easy to understand. For most full-service brokerages, there is no compensation unless and until the sale closes. By contrast, there are firms that offer "limited-services" in exchange for either an upfront flat fee or perhaps offer amenu of pay-as-you-go or "a la'
carte" services. some even offer a sliding scale from limited to full service. In these cases, the Realtor's® compensation is based on the level of service they provide. in short, it's the age-old market adage that "you get what you pay for."
A Variety of Choices
It can truly be said the variety of brokerage business models in today's real estate industry affords the homeowner a greatr ranfe of options than ever before. But no matter which option homeowners choose, before signing a Listing Agreement or otherwise engaging the services of a Realtor® and agreeing to compensate them, they shoud understand exactly what specific services will, or will not, be provided.
Why Use A Realtor®?
First, not every real estate agent or broker is a Realtor®. That term and the familiar Block "R" logo are trademarked by the National Association of Realtors® and can only be used by those who are Realtor® members through their local association of Realtors®. While all Realtors® are state-issued licenses as agents or brokers, the major difference between a "real estate licensee" and a Realtor® is that Realtors® have taken an oath to subscribe to a stringent, enforceable Code of Ethics with Standards of Practice that promote the fair, ethical and honest treatment of all parties in a transaction. Non-member licensees have taken no such oath and are not morally bound to the ethical practices and principles set for in the Realtor® Code. For that extra measure of peace of mind, ensure the individual seeking to represent you is both a real estate licensee and a Realtor®. A licensee status can be looked up through the National Association of Realtors.
The Realtor's® Critical Role in The Transaction
Listed here are the nearly 200 typical actions, research steps, procedures, processes and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction that are normally provided by Full Service real estate brokerages in return for their sales commission. Depending on the transaction, some make take minutes, hours or even days to complete, while some may not be needed. More importantly, they reflect the level of skill, knowledge and attention to detail required in today's real estate transaction, underscoring the importance of having help and guidance from someone who fully understands the process - a Realtor®. Never forget that Realtors® are pledged to uphold the stringent, enforceable tenets of the Realtor® Code of Ethics in their professional dealings with the public. Not every real estate licensee holds Realtor® membership. Make sure yours does!
- Make appointment with seller for listing presentation.
- Send seller a written or e-mail confirmation of listing appointment and call to confirm.
- Review pre-appointment questions.
- Research all comparable currently listed properties.
- Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public records databases.
- Research "Average Days on Market" for this property type, price range and location.
- Downloand and review property tax roll information.
- Prepare "Comparable Market Analysis" (CMA) to establish fair market value.
- Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex layout.
- Research property's ownership and deed type.
- Research property's public record information for lot size and dimensions.
- Research and verify legal description.
- Research property's land use coding and deed restrictions.
- Research property's current use and zoning.
- Verify legal names of owner(s) in county's public property records.
- Prepare listing presentaion package with above materials and HomeTrack™ information.
- Perform exterior "Curb Appeal Assessment" of subject property.
- Compile and assemble formal file on property.
- confirm current public schools and explain impact of schools on market value.
- Review listing appointment checklist to ensure all steps and actions have been completed.
Listing Appointment Presentation
- Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections.
- Review agent's and company's credentials and accomplishments in the market.
- Present company's profile and position or "niche" in the marketplace.
- Present CMA results to seller, including comparables, solds, Current Listings and Expireds.
- Offer pricing strategy based on professional judgment and interpretation of current market conditions.
- Discuss goals with seller to market effectivel.
- Explain market power and benefits of Multiple Listing Service.
- Explain benefits of using multiple internet property portals(websites).
- Explain the work the brokerage and agent do "behind the scens" and agent's availability on weekends.
- Explain agent's role in taking all calls to screen for qualified buyers and protect seller from curiousity seekers.
- Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan.
- Explain different agency relationships and determine seller's preference.
- Review and expain all clauses in Listing contract and Addendum and obtain Seler's signature.
Once Property is Under Listing Agreement
- Review current title information. A copy of the warrenty deed is procured.
- Measure overall and heated square footage.
- Measure Interior room sizes.
- Confirm lot size via owner's copy of certified survey, if available.
- Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easements.
- Obtain house plans, if applicable and available.
- Review house plans and make copy.
- Order plat map for retention in property's listing file.
- Prepare showing instructions for buyers' agents and agree on showing time window with seller.
- Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and loan account numbers.
- Verify current loan information with lender.
- Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements.
- Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller.
- Review current appraisal if available.
- Identify Home Owner Association manager if applicable.
- Verify Home Owner Association Fees with manager - madatory or optional and current annual fee.
- Order copy of homeowner Association bylaws, if applicable.
- Research electricity availability and supplier's name and phone number.
- Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills.
- Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system.
- Water System: Calculate average water fees or rates from last 12 months of bils.
- Well Water: confirm well status, depth and output form Well Report.
- Natural Gas: Research/verify availability and supplier's name and phone number.
- Verify security system, current term of service and whether owned or leased.
- Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond.
- Verify if seller has transferable Moisture-Free Warrenty bond if Stucco clad home.
- Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure.
- Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact.
- Prepare detailed list of property's "Incusions & Conveyances with Sale"
- Compile list of completed repairs and maintenance items.
- Send "Vacancy Checklist" to seller if property is vacant.
- Explain benefits of Home Owner Warrenty to seller.
- Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Warranty Application.
- When received, place Home Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale.
- Have extra key made for lockbox.
- Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:
- *Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file.
- *Verify all rents and deposits.
- * Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled.
- Arrange for installation of yard sign and lockbox.
- Assist seller with completion of Seller's Disclosure form.
- "New Listing Checklist" Completed.
- Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and provide suggestions to improve salability.
- Review results of Interior Decor Assesment and suggest changes to shorten time on market.
Entering Property in Multiple Listing Service Databases
- Prepare MLS Property Profile Sheets-- Agent is responsible for 'quality control" and accuracy of listing data. In Georgia, we have two(2) databases: FMLS and GAMLS.
- Enter property data from Profile Sheets into each MLS Listing Database.
- Proofread MLS listing databases for accuracy - including proper placement in mapping function.
- Add property to company's Active listings List.
- Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data Entry forms within 48 hours.
- Take photos for upload into MLS and to use in flyers.
- Take numerous panoramic photos to create Virtual Tour of the interior and exterior of the property and link to MLS's, websites and other areas of distribution. On occasion, properties may benefit from professional photograpy and tours.
Marketing The Listing
- Create and printInternet Ads with seller's input.
- Coordiante shwings with owners, tenants, and other Realtors®.
- Return all calls - weekends included.
- Install electronic lockbox if authorized by owner and program with agreed-upon showing time windows.
- Prepare mailing and contact list.
- Generate mail-merge letters to contact list.
- Order "Just Listed" labels and reports.
- Prepare flyers and feedback faxes.
- Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability.
- Prepare property marketing brochure for seller's review.
- Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or fliers.
- Place marketing brochures in all company agent mail boxes.
- Upload listing to company and agent Internet site, if applicable.
- Mail out "just Listed" notice to all neighborhood residents.
- Advise Network Referral Program of listing.
- Provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks.
- Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network.
- Provide "Special Feature" Cards for marketing, if applicable.
- Submit ads to company's participating Internet realestate sites.
- Price changes conveyed promptly to all internet groups.
- Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed.
- Loan information reviewed nd updated in MLS as required.
- Feedback e-mails/faxes sent to buyer's agents after showings.
- Review weekly market Study.
- Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale.
- Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing and pricing.
- Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing databases.
The Offer and Contract
- Recieve and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyer's agents.
- Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet" on each for the owner for comparison purposes.
- Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer.
- Contact buyer's agents to review buyer's qualifications and discuss offer.
- Fax or deliver Seller's Disclosure Exhibit to buyer's agent or buyer (upon request and prior to offer being made if possible).
- confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling Loan Officer.
- Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from loan officer.
- Negotiate all offers on seller's behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date.
- Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer's agent.
- Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company.
- When an Offer to Purchase contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver signed offer to buyer's agent.
- Record and promptly deposit buyer's earnest money in escrow/trust account.
- Disseminate "Under-Contract Showing Restrictions" as seller requests.
- Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to Selling Agent.
- Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender.
- Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file.
- Advise seller in handling any additional offers to purchase that may be submitted between contract and closing.
- Change status in MLS to"Sale Pending".
- Update internet sites to show "Sale Pending".
- Review buyer's credit report results -- Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios.
- Provide credit report information to seller if property will be seller-financed.
- Assist buyer with obtaining financing, if applicable and follow-up as necessary.
- Coordinate with lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates.
- Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer.
- Order septic system inspection, if applicable.
- Receive and review septic system report and assess any possible impact on sale.
- Deliver copy of septic system inspection report to lender and buyer.
- Deliver Well Flow Test Report copies to lender and buyer and property listing file.
- Verify Termite inspection ordered.
- Verify mold inspection ordered, if required.
Tracking the Loan Process
- Confirm Verifications of Deposit and Buyer's Employment have been returned.
- Follow loan processing through to the Underwriter.
- Add lender and other service vendors to HomeTrack™ so agents, buyer and seler can track progresss of sale.
- contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track.
- Relay final approval of buyer's loan application to seller.
- Coordinate buyer's professional home inspection with seller.
- Review home inspector's report.
- Enter completion into HomeTrack™
- Explain seller's responsibilities with respect to loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract.
- Ensure seller's compliance with Home Inspection clause requirements.
- Recommend or assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs.
- Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller's behalf, if needed.
- Schedule appraisal.
- Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to Appraiser.
- Follow-up on Appraisal.
- Enter completion into HomeTrack™.
- Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low.
Closing Preparations and Duties
- Contract is signed by all parties.
- Coordinate closing process with Buyer's agent and lender.
- Update closing forms and files.
- Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale.
- Select location where closing will be held.
- Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties.
- Assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc.) or in obtaining Death Certificates.
- Work with buyer's agent in scheduling and conducting buyers.
Final Walk-Thru Prior to Closing
- Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations.
- Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company).
- Receive and carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy of preparation.
- Forward verified closing figures to buyer's agent.
- Request copy of closing documents from closing agent.
- Confirm buyer and buyer's agent have received title insurance committment.
- Provide "Home Warranty" for availability at closing.
- Reviews all closing documents carefully for errors.
- Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested.
- Review documents with closing agent ( attorney).
- Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow/trust account to closing agent.
- Coordinate this closing with seller's next purchase and resolve any timing problems.
- Have a "no surprises" closing and present seller a net proceeds check at closing.
- Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable.
- Change MLS listing status to Sold. Enter sale date and price, selling broker and agent's ID number, etc.
- Close out listing in HomeTrack™
Follow Up After Closing
- Answer questions about fiing claims with Home Warranty company if requested.
- Attempt to clarify and resolve conflicts about repairs if buyer is not satisfied.
- Respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information required from Office files.
- Remind new homeowner to file for Homesatead Exemption is applicable.
- Be available to help with unforseen issues.