Start securing your American dream home now! Between all the paperwork, negotiations and fees, you'll need a special someone to help guide you through the ins and outs of the United States real estate system. Here's everything you need to know about your real estate agent.
Trusty advisor, agent or realtor?
There are three professionals who are qualified to accompany you throughout your real estate project: 1) a realtor, 2) real estate agent, and 3) a real estate broker. Their differences are minimal, however, very important for buyers and sellers to understand.
A real estate agent is a licensed sales professional, broker or associate broker, who has been approved by the state; and there are two types: A listing agent assists clients to sell a house, while a buyer’s agent, helps client purchase a home. Simple, right? Sort of. A realtor is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and sworn to abide by the association's standards and code of ethics (basically an agent with a moral compass).The other player to be aware of is the broker, who takes it one step further and attains a higher education, which is a certification (more courses and harder exams) above the state-sanctioned requirements of the agent; and so the broker can hire agents and realtors to work for them, often forming or heading an association.
Why you need a middleman
The road to a dream home is no doubt a very long and very rough one, so having an attentive back-seat driver is more crucial than annoying. There will be a few big challenges: finding that special home or property, negotiating ideal contract under the ideal terms (for the client), managing the paperwork (this cannot be understated), particular and admissible tax regulations (depends on state or region), and making sure the new house is in tip-top shape for the move-in date. Wouldn’t you want a loyal confidant at your side?
Real estate agents and their counterparts are trained to help clientele sell or buy a property while having an expert knowledge of a specific region, or state in the case of the US, and their corresponding rules and regulations. Their services often begin with assessing their client’s, buyer or seller, needs; then going on to consult with the MLS (Multi Listing Service), which is a database where agents have access to all the listings in the US. A good real estate agent (like the ones from BARNES) attends the home inspection and appraisal to seize every detail about the property’s condition and represent their client.
The agent’s core role is to offer advice and guidance regarding market trends, competitive prices, and determine favorable property conditions. Even more importantly, they act, on their clients' behalf, as an intermediary between buyers and sellers throughout negotiations. Agents can also relay any legal documentation and contracts to a real estate attorney for review, but it’s not completely necessary (at least by law) because agents are given “Power of Attorney,” which gives them the authority to act on behalf of their client’s legal matters. In return, real estate agents typically charge a percentage of the final sales price. Of course, their role is especially important for expats making their first big purchase in the States and even investors.
Agents help a lot, but even the most valuable allies have limits. Most of them stem from aspects of financing. Although agents do assess the eligibility of a candidate and can offer broad guidelines for banking, buyers and sellers are still responsible for considering currency exchange rates, banking systems, and multi-national taxation, account issues, and any restrictions. Ultimately, it's up to buyer and seller to communicate with home banks and inquire about that curious thing called credit (also very important!).
All in all, real estate agents, realtors, and brokers help sellers and buyers 1) save (valuable) time, and 2) make the real-estate process (almost) enjoyable! … Especially here on SoBarnes, stay tuned!
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