Realtor View: A real estate license does not a Realtor make

Real estate is a diverse industry with residential, commercial and other specialties. If you are ready to sell a house, you obviously want an agent who knows residential real estate. But what else should you consider as you start this process?

Holding a real estate license does not make someone a Realtor. There’s more to it than that. The main feature that distinguishes a Realtor from someone who’s merely licensed by the state to sell real estate is the Code of Ethics, which requires Realtors to put their clients’ interests first at all times.

Hiring a Realtor means you have retained someone who is committed to continuing education, professionalism, and integrity. So, before you ask potential real estate agents any other questions, ask if they are a Realtor.

Compensation: When considering an agent, it may be a mistake to choose your representative based solely on compensation. Agents charge differently and provide different levels of service. Make sure you know what you’re getting.

Pricing: It’s also not always the best idea to go with an agent solely because they suggest the highest asking price. Yes, you want to get as much as possible for your home, but neither you nor your agent determines what a buyer is willing to pay. An agent who prices your home too high to get your listing isn’t doing you any favors.

Marketing: Suppose your house is beautifully remodeled and priced to sell. What good is that if no one sees it? Before you hire an agent, ask how they plan to market your property. Agents have different marketing strategies that may include the Internet, MLS, print ads, open houses, staging and other means. Make sure you’re comfortable with the efforts planned for your property.

Communication: Find out how an agent stays in touch with clients. Texts? Phone calls? Emails? Tweets or posts on your Facebook page? Tell the agent which method you prefer — and how often you want to hear from them. It’s better to find out now if an agent doesn’t use text messaging, which may be your preferred method of communication, than to find out during negotiations with a buyer.

Interview: Don’t be afraid to interview several agents. Ask your friends and family who they have used. There are lots of us available to help you, and we each have our own style, personality, strengths and business models.

To find a Realtor in your area of Texas who can help you sell your home, visit HAR.com and click on the “Find a Real Estate Agent” option under the “Agents” tab. You can narrow your search by using a variety of different criteria, including client experience rating, platinum agent, multilingual agent, multicultural agent and certifications.

Shannon Cobb Evans, with Heritage Texas Properties, is 2019 chair of the Houston Association of Realtors/HAR.com.

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