by: Sarah Cullington (A REALTOR’s daughter)
While studying abroad, my host family asked the standard question “What do your parents do?” Without thinking, I casually replied, “Oh, they’re Realtors.” The quizzical expressions on their faces caught me off guard. My host mom squinted her eyes and slowly repeated my response in the form of a question: “They are Realtors?. . . I don’t understand.”
At first, I assumed they were joking and would proceed to start cracking Realtor jokes; something to which anyone workingin the Real Estate industry is accustomed. But I was wrong. They were stumped about the title “Realtor,” a term they did not use to describe Real Estate Agents in their region. This surprised me, I had never thought about Realtor as an unusual job title. Recalling this story a few weeks ago, I finally decided to clear up the confusion and to ask my mom, a Realtor, what maker her a Realtor and not just any ol’ Estate Agent.
Me: “What is the definition of a Realtor? How is the term different from a Real Estate Agent? Broker?”
Barb (mom):” The following is a quote from the National Association of Realtors (NAR)
‘The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
Working for America’s property owners, NAR provides a forum for professional development, research and the exchange of information among its members, and to the public and government for the purpose of preserving the free enterprise system and the right to own real property.
Members belong to one or more of some 1,700 local associations/boards and 54 state and territory associations of REALTORS®. Additionally, they can join one of our many institutes, societies and councils to enhance their expertise and network with other professionals globally’
I chose to join the NAR because it provides learning opportunities, and brings together a community of Brokers who work together to improve the market each day. The customers benefit because their Realtor can offer real insight into the conditions of the market and has the ability to network with other NAR members to provide the best information to the potential buyer and seller.”
Me: “Why should someone choose a Realtor over trying to sell themselves or buy through the person directly?”
Barb: “A Real Estate Agent like a REALTOR must pass state testing, take required education to do so, and pay fees to the state for a licence. Most of all, he or she must maintain the required education requirements set down by each state. A REALTOR goes beyond that by first joining a local organzation of Board of REALTORS, which belongs to the state Board of REALTORS. In Colorado it is the Colorado Association of REALTORS (CAR), who by charter are members of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). The status of REALTORS sets apart the designation of Real Estate Agent by holding to strict codes of ethics, providing educational and other volunteer benefits to the community, following laws and promoting laws that protect the home seller and buyer, providing legal support to REALTOR members, and many other out reach programs.
Me: “What should we all expect from our Realtors? How involved are they? Do they keep checking up on clients? What does the person pay for?”
Barb: “The state defines the role of a Real Estate Agent and REALTOR alike. In Colorado you can be represented as a Transaction Broker, a Buyers’ Agent, A Sellers’ Agent, or a Customer. These terms are all clearly defined. After discussion, the type of service is selected by the customer. All require confidentiality and due diligence with any monies and terms in contracts. A Buyer may pay the commission to their agent, but generally commissions are paid by the Seller; this is all negotiated. The service to be provided is also variable and is negotiated in each transaction. Commissions are also all negotiated with each transaction. The client and agent get together and set goals on advertising, signage, dates, etc. We all try to keep in touch with our clients. In the current market, however, when we are all carrying large inventories this is not so easy, every agent has their own techniques.”
Me: “What are the most common mistakes you have witnessed by buyers and/or sellers? What is the most important lesson you have learned over the years? What is your favorite success story?”
Barb: “Mistakes often made by sellers. . .over valuing their property based on personal feelings and not on market conditions, and not cleaning and presenting their properties well. By Buyers. . .not being realistic in what they can afford. NOTHING IS CERTAIN UNTIL YOU ARE AT THE CLOSING TABLE; AND, EVEN THEN DEALS CAN FAIL. Always be straightforward, never mislead. My favorite recent story. . . educating a young couple on the benefits of USDA loans and thus assisting them in negotiating on a much nicer home than they could have bought with traditional financing. My favorite story of all time. . . most of my clients become my good friends.”