Monday, May 23, 2011

Realtor; Designated Specialties

Any Realtor who considers a career in the business of representing real estate buyers and sellers needs to be educated.  The days of just applying to a state licensing authority with a few hours of "how-to-fill-out-a-form" have been gone for many, many years.  I know because I remember!  My first purchase agreement was written on a one-page, 8-1/2" x 11" form.  Today, a typical purchase agreement will most likely be close to 20 pages!  A lot has changed.

Once upon a time,
 I attended a continuing education course called 'Buy a House - Kill a tree'.  The amount of paperwork generated beginning with representation agreements all the way through the filing of closed documents would blow your mind.  So much of this is generated due to regulations.  Real Estate Brokers and Agents are regulated.  Title Companies adhere to regulations.  Mortgage companies have regulations (believe it or not) and there is no end in sight to the creation of new laws which will continue to have an impact on each transaction.  In addition to the statutory requirements, there are also legal situations which create additional paperwork.

As our society became more litigious, real estate lawsuits became more prevelant.  Hard to believe, huh.  Well, as a result, more disclosure is required.  That's a good thing!  People should be in a position to make informed decisions about their purchase. Basically, today's forms are designed to force discussions between the parties in order to prevent complications. There are fewer post-closing problems because of these forms.

Traditionally, most people buy/sell real estate every 5 to 7 years.  I'm guessing that this statistic may be a bit flawed due to the "New Economy", but for our purposes, it doesn't matter. Real estate transactional regulations can change dramatically even in the shorter span of five years!  How can you possibly know all of the requirements and nuances that exist in today's market if you haven't been involved in a transaction for years?  You need an EDUCATED Real Estate Agent.  (By the way - we can find one of those for you!)

Agents who are serious about their career will go beyond state education requirements and obtain accreditation for specific types of transactions. There are currently 20 Realtor Designations.  Here is the list: ABR, ALC, CCIM, CIPS, CPM, CRB, CRS, CRE, GAA, GREEN, GRI, PMN, RCE, RAA, SIOR, SRES, AHWD, e-PRO, RSPS, and SFR.

You'll see these designations on the business cards and promotional materials presented to you by Realtors.  All well and good, but what do they mean to you?  For, example, maybe you're looking to purchase a new house. You will be looking for someone who will represent you and your best interests. But what does that mean?  An agent with an ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) will be trained in all fiduciary responsibilities created by a representation contract.  Examples include:
  • Anything that your agent knows about you and your personal life, your finances, your motivations and negotiating strategies must be kept confidential unless you agree to release it.
  • During the process of exploring various potential purchases, your representative should be discussing any tell-tale signs of property problems. 
  • Property and community research should be available to you, especially when you get close to making a decision.  How long has the property been for sale?  What was the last sales price?  What is the assessed valuation for tax purposes?  What are the closed sales saying about market conditions and comparable properties?  Is this a short-sale, bank-owned or foreclosure property?  Is it legally possible to modify this property for your particular use?  (i.e., additional garage, pool, fencing, lot splitting, rental income, your particular situation)
  • Fill-in-the-blank forms are common when you're ready to make an offer.  What does each blank mean to you as a buyer AND what will they mean to the seller?  How can you be ready to proceed without knowing how the other side will interpret the language in each of these forms?
  • And most importantly, the ABR accredited agent will put YOUR interest above all others, including his/her own.  This is truly a serious responsibility.
Click Here to review each of these designations and remind yourself that buying and selling real estate has a major impact on your life.  Let us help you find the perfect Realtor for your next transaction.  At no cost to you, Responsible Referrals can help whether you are moving across the country or across the street.  And, of course, half of our transaction fee will be used to support the incredible people and organizations helping homeless youth and families.


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