What does a REALTOR do? They help people buy or sell a home, right? Sounds simple, but few things are as straightforward as they sound, especially in today’s real estate market. According to Kimberly Dove, an assistant sales director for Shorewest Realtors, the first thing to know is that REALTORS are not all the same.

Let’s begin with the name. The difference between an agent and a REALTOR is significant. A REALTOR is a member of the National Association of REALTORS, is committed to a Code of Ethics and has the expertise to find the right home for you. Look for the “R” to determine if your agent is a REALTOR.

Different Business Models
There are many brokerages to choose from and a number of different business models — including full service, limited service and flat fee. And, as in all professions, there isn’t one way of doing business and providing service. To understand how REALTORS work, experts recommend talking with a few before selecting one.

“A conversation should provide you with a clear understanding of the level of service you’ll receive,” says Abby Hauke, general sales manager, First Weber Inc. Lake Country and Jefferson County offices. “A REALTOR will also help you know what the buying or selling process entails. For example, prepping your home, listing it on the MLS and getting the accepted offer are only a fraction of the steps involved.”

Experience & Expertise Matter
“Experience and expertise are extremely important, especially in this challenging market,” says Mike Kollmansberger, a real estate broker with Shorewest Realtors. “The process of buying or selling a property is complex, and for most people, it’s the largest financial transaction they’ve ever been involved in.”

That’s why it’s essential to have a REALTOR who can offer guidance on a range of issues — everything from determining the market value of a property to navigating contract contingencies to appraisal and financing issues.

“Many people do not realize that you have to sell a home three times — when the offer is accepted, at the inspection and again at the appraisal,” Hauke says. “So, when you’re looking for this all-important expertise, asking a lot of questions is crucial.”

REALTORS Are Your Partner
Since it can be a stressful and hectic process, it’s imperative to know that REALTORS are on your side.

Whether you are hiring a REALTOR as a buyer’s agent or a listing agent, a quality professional represents you and your interests. That means, as a buyer, you can expect someone who is looking out for you rather than representing the seller. As a seller, having a qualified listing agent on your side means you have someone to help control the process and protect the equity you’ve built.

And, whether selling or buying a home, going it alone without a REALTOR can be fraught with problems — including legal issues, negotiation difficulties and inspection snags.

Dove says the one thing she wishes every buyer and seller knew is: “They don’t know what they don’t know. By hiring a professional REALTOR, the seller will most likely net more money at the closing because they have a guide taking them through the process.”

REALTORS work with their clients to come up with the best strategies to help them meet their goals. A REALTOR’S job is to be a facilitator, not a decision maker. And being a facilitator in today’s market is no small task. A good REALTOR may make it look easy, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

REALTORS are the Real Deal
“I recently had a client say: ‘In this market, REALTORS don’t have to do much to sell a home.’ In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Today’s market requires an expert in preparing and marketing for top dollar, negotiating multiple offers, explaining the pros and cons of various contingencies and ensuring the offer gets to the closing table while avoiding obstacles that we often foresee,” says Dove.

Plus, a REALTOR’S facilitator role often extends beyond the closing. Clients may seek all kinds of home advice before, during and after the sale.

Not surprisingly, a facilitator’s — and therefore a REALTOR’S — biggest job is to listen. Because just as REALTORS are not all the same, neither are clients.

“Whether we are representing our sellers or our buyers, we will never get to the finish line smoothly and successfully unless we take the time to listen to our clients. No one house is the same, no one client or their motivation is the same. Therefore, we need to listen first to truly understand how to best use our expertise and tailor the experience for them,” Hauke says.

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