Updated: Mar 3
If it's one of those days when you need a little laugh, go to Google and see how it will finish your phrases. Try typing in the word "are", and you will get, "are the Browns playing today," or "are mermaids real." Type in "how" and you'll see results like "how old is Dolly Parton," and "how many people are in the world." I've often smiled at some of them, or realized that I'm not the only one who needs to look up "how many ounces are in a cup" (the #1 response). Today, when I typed in "What does a rea," I expected to see something, funny... but I was pretty shocked at the results:
As I looked at this page, I thought of all the For Sale By Owner homes I'd ever driven by, and all the fake email addresses that I've heard agents complain about receiving, and it made sense. You just slap it on the internet and collect the money when it sells, right? While I'm not qualified to answer what an angel looks like, or how to make a fake ID (you're not kidding anyone with "what does a real id look like"), I am qualified to tell you what a Realtor is and what they do. So, for our first blog post, I figured, what better way to kick it all off than to answer that age old question, "Do I Really Need a Realtor?"
Agent vs Broker vs Realtor
First, I'd like to point out the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. While both are required to have a license, and maintain ongoing certification requirements, a Realtor is held to an additional code of Ethics, and ongoing ethics education requirements. As Realtors, we have promised to put our client's interests above our own, and to always be fair and honest. While no one is perfect, there is something to be said for those who have made the commitment to become a Realtor. (You can read/print the most recent Code of Ethics here)
As a former broker, I asked my father-in-law, John Chandler, what is the difference between an agent and a broker? "All brokers start out as agents. A broker", he said "is licensed to operate a brokerage practice, of which he then hires agents to be a part of that business. To be a broker you must have been in the business longer, consummated more transactions, and completed more testing than the average licensed agent" "So," he said "the broker is the responsible party, and all transactions are done in his/her name." So if I sum it all up, the broker is in charge, the agents conduct all the business, and Realtor is the title you receive as an agent if you promise to fair and honest.
Navigating the Steps
There are lots of jobs out there that people can do themselves, and as an avid DIYer, I am always up for that challenge. Having said that, I will usually practice my furniture painting or crafting skills on a piece that I picked up off the side of the road, or something found on Offer Up for $40. Recently, my sweet little angel took a ball point pen to my husband's grandmother's beautiful antique chest of drawers. Now, don't get me wrong, I did sit there for a long time thinking I could fix that. I assessed the groove where the pen dug into the wood, and then thought of the different ways that I could remove the ink without harming the original finish. For days I contemplated the different tactics I could use to restore the finish to it's former glory. I finally came to the conclusion, that if my goal was to retain the value of the chest, I was going to have to contact a professional furniture restorer. BUT, if I didn't care about the end value, I could fix it myself. Would it appraise after I worked my magic? Maybe...but even if I could, I don't trust that the job I would do would 100% retain the value of this beautiful antique piece. As a seller, you have a similar choice to make. What is your end goal? If your end goal is just to sell your house, without regard to price or ease of transaction, then I say "GO FOR IT! Sell it yourself!" I'll even share with you "the checklist" of 180 basic things a real estate agent should do to list your home according to The Akron Cleveland Association of Realtors.
Now that you have "the checklist", and your goal in mind, here are some *percentages on how buyers find the home they purchased:
Real estate agent: 29%
Yard sign/open house sign: 6%
Friend, relative, or neighbor: 5%
Home builder or their agent: 6%
Directly from sellers/Knew the sellers: 2%
Print newspaper advertisement: 1%
Lastly, here are the most recent *statistics, regarding buying or selling your home with or without an agent:
89% of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home
Recent sellers typically sold their homes for 99% of the listing price, and 38% reported reducing the asking price at least once
The typical home sold was on the market for 3 weeks.
**FSBOs accounted for 8% of home sales in 2018. The typical FSBO home sold for $217,900 compared to $295,000 for agent-assisted home sales
And there you have it! Now you know the difference between an agent, a broker, and a Realtor! You have all the info you need to make a well-informed decision on whether to use a professional or go your own way. Now how to choose the right professional? Well that's a story for another day!
*Source: 2020 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers
**FSBO = For Sale By Owner