Whether you’re looking for a new home or want to sell the property you currently live in, identifying the right kind of real estate professional to work with can make a big difference to your success. There are different types of real estate agents and it is important to understand the role and expertise of each so that you can find the professional best suited to your needs.
Real estate agent
A real estate agent is a professional whose job it is to represent individuals in the process of buying a house and selling houses. Realtors must pass an exam in the state where they intend to do business in order to obtain a real estate license. Additionally, real estate agents must complete a certain number of related course hours in order to receive a real estate license, although this requirement varies from state to state.
The profession of real estate agent dates back more than a century: around 1900 when agents began showing houses for rent or purchase. Real estate agents can represent a variety of clients, ranging from single-family home buyers and sellers to real estate investors.
In 2022, there were approximately 4.1 million licensee records in the database maintained by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials.
Real estate agent
A Realtor (yes, it’s spelled with a capital R) is a professional who not only has their real estate license and completed relevant courses, but is also a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a private association in non-profit. Association of real estate professionals.
In addition to being a trademarked term, the realtor designation, which is sometimes capitalized as REAL ESTATE AGENT, identifies a professional who is expected to follow a strict code of ethics.
While it is entirely possible to be a fully licensed real estate agent who is not a member of NAR, such individuals cannot use the real estate agent designation. As of September 2022, NAR has approximately 1.5 million members.
Real estate broker
The third main type of real estate agent is a broker. Like traditional real estate agents, a broker is a licensed professional who has completed the required training or courses. And, like a real estate agent, a broker can help you buy a new home and sell your current home.
However, a broker has more legal and financial responsibilities than an agent. Agents are authorized to sell property and represent purchasers of property; brokers are authorized to oversee property sales. They ensure that all real estate transactions comply with state and federal regulations, and that all documentation is complete and correct. Unlike real estate agents, a broker also has the ability to transfer money in and out of escrow accounts.
A broker has also taken additional training and licensing beyond what a real estate agent has taken. One must pass an advanced state exam to obtain the broker designation. And once an individual obtains this title, they can work alone or run their own real estate business, hire and manage other agents or brokers. Indeed, real estate agents must work under the sponsorship of a broker or with a brokerage.
Specialized real estate professionals
Among real estate agents, there are a few additional differences to be aware of. Like other professionals, real estate agents often have specialties.
Listing agent: A listing or selling agent is a professional who specifically represents the seller in a real estate transaction. As part of this role, the estate agent may list the property for sale, market the property and be the one present at open houses. A listing agent will usually also serve as the point of contact for potential home buyers and their agents. When offers are received on the home, a listing agent will review the offers and help negotiate a final deal for the seller.
Buyer’s Agent: A buyer’s agent, on the other hand, represents the person or group of people seeking to purchase a property. Some of the tasks this professional will perform include finding properties for buyers to view, making recommendations on how much to bid for a home, and helping negotiate a deal. Buyer’s agents may also perform market analysis to help identify the fair value of a home the buyer is interested in and may also recommend other professionals during the buying process, such as home inspectors. building. Buyer’s agents can be especially helpful for first-time home buyers who lack experience in the buying process.
Double agent : Although not legal in every state in the country, a double agent is a real estate agent who simultaneously represents both the buyer and the seller in a real estate sale. This type of transaction can be difficult because it may be difficult for a double agent to fairly represent the interests of both parties in such a transaction and the likelihood of a conflict of interest is higher.
Commercial real estate agent: Commercial real estate agents typically focus on helping people buy, sell, or even rent properties that will be used for business or professional activities, as opposed to residential properties. Like a residential real estate agent, commercial real estate agents must take courses and pass a test to obtain a license.
The NAR also awards specialist degrees to its real estate agent members, indicating additional education and/or experience in certain areas of real estate. These designations include:
- Accredited Buyer’s Representative / ABR
- Accredited Land Consultant / ALC
- International Certified Real Estate Specialist / CIPS
- Certified Real Estate Team Specialist / C-RETS
- Luxury Homes / LHC Certification
- Specialist in resort and second home real estate / RSPS
- Specialist Sales Representative / SRS
- Senior Real Estate Specialist / SRES
Find a real estate agent
When you’re ready to buy or sell a home, finding an agent you’re comfortable with and can trust is an important first step. Buying or selling a home is one of the most financially significant transactions most people engage in and the right agent can help make the process much less daunting.
You can start the research process by asking friends or relatives for references of real estate agents they have used in the past and liked. It’s also a good idea to interview at least two to three different agents. Some of the questions to ask include how long they have been in business, what their typical sales volume is, and what types of properties or neighborhoods they specialize in. You will also want to know how and how often they will speak with you, as effective communication is essential throughout a real estate transaction.
Also, if you’re selling a home, be sure to ask an agent how they plan to market your home and what percentage of the homes they’ve sold have met or exceeded the asking price.