What is the difference between a real estate agent, a Realtor, and a broker?

When selling a home, especially before the process has even begun and you’re looking for a real estate agent, you’ll come across the terms agent, Realtor, and broker. So what’s the difference, and how are you supposed to know which one to choose?

A real estate agent is anyone that is licensed to accommodate the sale or purchase of real estate, land or property, to any individual or business. To earn a real estate agent license an individual must undergo a number of courses and training pertaining to real estate transactions and the law surrounding them, and then pass a final exam. The requirements and coursework vary from state to state but it typically consists of 40-90 hours of study time. All states also require that real estate agents are at least 18 years of age. Once the individual has completed the training and passed the exam, they cannot operate independently even though they now have their real estate license. They must work for a real estate broker.

A Realtor is a real estate agent that has undergone extensive training past the minimum amount required, is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and subscribes to the Realtor Code of Ethics. The ethics training undergone by potential Realtors must be completed within one year of the agent becoming a member of the NAR and they must also update their training and examinations once every two years. While all Realtors are real estate agents, not all real estate agents are Realtors, and only those that are can use the registered Realtor trademark on their promotional materials.

A real estate broker is an individual that has completed even more extensive training beyond the real estate agent level and is educated and licensed to run their own brokerage. Once this training has been completed, the broker can then work independently or can hire real estate agents to work for them.

When is the best time of year to sell my home?

Homeowners and real estate agents alike concern themselves with the perfect time of year to sell a home because the time of year you list your home will greatly affect how fast your home sells, and how much you get for it. So what is the best time of year to sell your home? Most times, the best time to sell your home will coincide with the time of year when the weather is best; people are more interested in going out to view homes when the weather is nice.

The month of June is the best time to sell a home, as this is when the market peaks for the year. But if you list your home in June, you might miss that window because buyers are already out viewing the homes that were listed just a bit earlier than that. Typically the best time to list your home is between mid-March and mid-April. Homes that are in areas that experience nice weather all year round can start listing closer to the beginning or middle of March, while homes that are in areas that experience harsh winters are advised to wait until the beginning or middle of April.

In the report “The New Rules of Real Estate,” co-authored by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries, listing your home during these times will help it sell 15 percent faster and will garner 2 percent more than the average listing.

2.) What are the most important factors I should consider when selling my home?
When selling a home, it can be overwhelming to think about all the many factors that need to be taken into consideration in order to sell your home quickly, and for the value you want. But when you break it down into the three most important considerations: price, condition, and exposure, it becomes much easier to focus on the factors that will make the biggest difference.

Price is one of the most important factors to take into consideration because if you don’t price your property properly, it will automatically turn buyers off, even often before they’ve even seen the inside of your home.

The condition of your home is also of utmost importance when selling because most buyers won’t be interested in purchasing a home that still needs a lot of work put into them. Even if your home doesn’t have holes in the wall, peeling paint, water stains, and even dirty carpets can turn buyers away so it’s extremely important to make sure your home is in the very best condition before showing it to potential buyers.

The third most important factor to consider when selling your home is the exposure it receives while on the market. Even with the home priced at a great value for buyers and pristine condition inside and out, if buyers don’t know about your home they’re simply not going to buy it. It’s for this reason that you need to make sure your home is getting as much exposure as possible. A lot of that will fall on your real estate agent’s shoulders, through advertising and getting your home listed in the local multiple listings service. However, to increase your exposure even more you also need to get the word out to whoever you can and even more importantly, make sure you and your home are available for open houses.

How do I know what price to list my home at?

So you know that price is one of the most important factors to consider when listing your home. If you price your home too high, it will turn buyers away because they don’t see the value; and if you price it too low, you could lose out on thousands of dollars. But how do you know what a fair price is for both you and buyers? You can be prepared to just give your real estate agent a number based on what you paid for the home and what you think the home is worth; but that’s not the smartest way to go about it. For better or worse, the market has most likely changed since you purchased your home, making a fair comparison very difficult. Also, sentimental value can come into play, placing a bias on any price you determine is fair for your home. A much better way to price your home is to get an appraisal, or have a comparative market analysis performed, which will tell you how much your home is worth based on location, condition, and market conditions.

Appraisals can be costly, ranging from $300 for a single-family home and even more for multi-family dwellings. They are performed by a professional appraiser who knows to look at things such as location, square footage, waterfront possibilities, and amenities including garages, number of rooms, bathrooms, etc. Appraisals can give you a precise number to value your property at, and they’re even defendable in court.

A comparative market analysis is similar to an appraisal. A real estate agents will often provide clients with a free comparative market analysis. Even though these analyses are informal, agents still need to evaluate your home based on accepted appraisal practices, meaning that they too will take into consideration the size and style of the home, location, condition, and what other similar homes are being sold for on the market. While these analyses don’t provide a precise number the way appraisals do, they can provide a solid price range from which a number can be agreed upon.

Both appraisals and comparative market analyses should be submitted to the homeowner in writing.

Should I make repairs that are necessary on the home?

Truthfully, whether or not you decide to take on the task of making repairs on your home is up to you, but there are several things you should take into consideration before making the decision.

The first is that if your home requires any major repairs, such as fixing a foundation problem, you probably are better off just making the repairs before selling the home. While these types of repairs might not get you a huge increase in price, because buyers simply won’t purchase a home that’s dangerous or inhabitable, you’ll ultimately sell the home much more quickly and won’t have to worry about the problem causing any problems later, such as lawsuits.

If there are minor problems such as a leaky faucet, a laundry hook-up that doesn’t work, or a half-finished basement, you’ll have to carefully weigh your options before deciding whether or not you want to make the repairs yourself. If you do make the repairs, it can greatly add value to your home (depending on what the repair was), and you can usually also ask for more in the price than the project cost you to complete.

If you don’t make the repairs, however, the buyer might include an inspection clause in the contract which will give them the option of backing out of the deal if issues or concerns are found within the home. If that happens, it could cause a great delay in the selling of your home. Also consider that if you don’t make the repairs, buyers could try to use those small issues to try and negotiate a lower price for the home.

What are contingency clauses and what are the most common clauses included in offers?

Contingency clauses are clauses that buyers will include in their offers to protect them from unforeseen circumstances that may crop up during the process of the sale.

By including contingency clauses, the buyer can express their sincere interest in buying the home simply based on one or two quick viewings. From the time the offer is submitted to the closing date, a number of things can occur, problems can be found with the home, and those problems can make it impossible for the buyer to purchase the home. For this reason, contingency clauses are put into place that provides the buyer with an “out” should they need it later on.

The two contingency clauses that are more common than any others are the inspection clause, and the financing clause.

The inspection clause is included in the offer to purchase because the inspection will not yet have been performed upon the time of submitting the offer. If it’s found after the inspection is completed that there are major issues with the home or a lot of repairs that are needed, the buyers can point to the inspection clause and retract their offer.

Financing clauses are written into offers to purchase with nearly every single contract that’s drawn for the purchase of any home. This is because once again, while buyers might have an idea of how much they can afford and may even have pre-approvals, they won’t actually have the financing firmed up and in place.

There are also many things that can happen during the financing process that can cause the financing to fall through for the buyer and make purchasing the home impossible. Financial clauses keep the buyer from being legally and contractually bound to buy the home when there’s simply no way they can do so.