Why Use A Realtor??

The REALTOR®'S Critical Role
 in the Real Estate Transaction

Surveys show that many homeowners and homebuyers are not aware of the true value they receive in the services a REALTOR® provides during the course of a real estate transaction.

At the same time, regrettably, REALTORS® have generally assumed that the expertise, professional knowledge and just plain hard work that go into bringing about a successful transaction were understood and appreciated.

Many of the most important services and steps are performed "behind the scenes" by either the REALTOR® or the brokerage staff and have been traditionally viewed simply as part of their professional responsibilities to their client. But, without them, the transaction could be placed in jeopardy.

This publication seeks to close that gap.

Listed on the following pages are the typical actions, research steps, processes and review stages necessary for a successful residential real estate transaction and normally provided by a full service real estate brokerage and for which they are entitled to fair compensation.

Completeness of the List

The list is by no means an attempt to set forth a complete list of services as these may vary within each brokerage and each market. Many REALTORS® routinely provide a wide variety of additional services that are as varied as the nature of each transaction.

By the same token, some transactions may not require some of the steps to be successful. However, most would agree that given the unexpected complications that can arise, it's far better to know about a step and make an intelligent, informed decision that it is not needed, than to not know the possibility even existed.

The REALTOR® Commitment

Through it all, the REALTOR®'S personal and professional commitment is to ensure that a seller and buyer are brought together in an agreement that provides each of them a "win" that is fair and equitable.

Their motivation is easy to understand. For most full-service brokerages, there is no compensation unless and until the sale closes.

By contrast, there are firms that offer "limited-services" in exchange for either an upfront flat fee or perhaps offer a menu of pay-as-you-go or "a la' carte" services. Some even offer a sliding scale from limited to full service. In these cases, the REALTOR®'S compensation is based on the level of service they provide. In short, it's the age-old market adage that "you get what you pay for."

A Variety of Choices

It can truly be said the variety of brokerage business models in today's real estate industry affords the homeowner a greater range of options than ever before.

But no matter which option homeowners choose, before signing a Listing Agreement or otherwise engaging the services of a REALTOR® and agreeing to compensate them, they should understand exactly what specific services will, or will not, be provided.


First, not every real estate agent or broker is a REALTOR®. That term and the familiar Block "R" logo are trademarked by the National Association of REALTORS® and can only be used by those are REALTOR® members through their local association of REALTORS®.

While all REALTORS® are state-issued licenses as agents or brokers, the major difference between a "real estate licensee" and a REALTOR® is that REALTORS® have taken an oath to subscribe to a stringent, enforceable Code of Ethics with Standards of Practice that promote the fair, ethical and honest treatment of all parties in a transaction. Non-member licensees have taken no such oath and are not morally bound to the ethical practices and principles set for in the REALTOR® Code.

For that extra measure of peace of mind, ensure the individual seeking to represent you is both a real estate licensee and a REALTOR®.


The REALTOR®'S Critical Role in the Transaction

Listed here are the typical actions, research steps, procedures, processes and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction that are normally provided by full service real estate brokerages in return for their sales commission. Depending on the transaction, some may take minutes, hours, or even days to complete, while some may not be needed.

More importantly, they reflect the level of skill, knowledge and attention to detail required in todays real estate transaction, underscoring the importance of having help and guidance from someone who fully understands the process - a REALTOR®.

And never forget that REALTORS® are pledged to uphold the stringent, enforceable tenets of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics in their professional dealings with the public. Not every real estate licensee holds REALTOR® membership. Make sure yours does!

Pre-Listing Activities

1)    Make appointment with seller for listing presentation

2)    Send sellers a written or e-mail confirmation of listing appointment and call to confirm

3)    Review pre-appointment questions

4)    Research all comparable currently listed properties

5)    Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public records databases

6)    Research "Average Days on Market" for this property of this type, price range and location

7)    Download and review property tax roll information

8)    Prepare "Comparable Market Analysis" (CMA) to establish fair market value

9)    Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex layout

10)  Research property's ownership & deed type

11)  Research property's public record information for lot size & dimensions

12)  Research and verify legal description

13)  Research property's land use coding and deed restrictions

14)  Research property's current use and zoning

15)  Verify legal names of owner(s) in county's public property records

16)  Prepare listing presentation package with above materials and Home Track™ information

17)  Perform exterior "Curb Appeal Assessment" of subject property

18)  Compile and assemble formal file on property

19)  Confirm current public schools and explain impact of schools on market value

20)  Review listing appointment checklist to ensure all steps and actions have been completed

Listing Appointment Presentation

21)  Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections

22)  Review agent's and company's credentials and accomplishments in the market

23)  Present company's profile and position or "niche" in the marketplace

24)  Present CMA Results To Seller, including Comparables, Sold, Current Listings & Expired

25)  Offer pricing strategy based on professional judgment and interpretation of current market conditions

26)  Discuss Goals With Seller To Market Effectively

27)  Explain market power and benefits of Multiple Listing Service

28)  Explain market powers of Home Track™, IDX and REALTOR.com

29)  Explain the work the brokerage and agent do "behind the scenes" and agent's availability on weekends

30)  Explain agent's role in taking all calls to screen for qualified buyers and protect seller from curiosity seekers

31)  Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan

32)  Explain different agency relationships and determine seller's preference

33)  Review and explain all clauses in Listing Contract & Addendum and obtain seller's signature

Once Property is Under Listing Agreement

34)  Review current title information

35)  Measure overall and heated square footage

36)  Measure interior room sizes

37)  Confirm lot size via owner's copy of certified survey, if available

38)  Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, and easements

39)  Obtain house plans, if applicable and available

40)  Review house plans and make copy

41)  Order plat map for retention in property's listing file

42)  Prepare showing instructions for buyers' agents and agree on showing time window with seller

43 Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and & loan account numbers

44 Verify current loan information with lender(s)

45 Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements

46 Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller

47 Review current appraisal if available

48 Identify Home Owner Association managers if applicable

49 Verify Home Owner Association Fees with manager - mandatory or optional and current annual fee

50 Order copies of Homeowner Association bylaws, if applicable

51 Research electricity availability and supplier's name and phone number

52 Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills

53 Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system

54 Water System: Calculate average water fees or rates (from last 12 months of bills)

55 Well Water: Confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report

56 Natural Gas: Research/verify availability and supplier's name and phone number

57 Verify security system, current term of service and whether owned or leased

58 Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond

59 Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure

60 Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact

61 Prepare detailed list of property's "Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale"

62 Compile a list of completed repairs and maintenance items

63 Send "Vacancy Checklist" to seller if property is vacant

64 Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller

65 Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty Application

66 When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for

conveyance at time of sale

67 Have extra key made for lockbox

68 Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:

69 * Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file

70 * Verify all rents & deposits

71 * Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled

72 Arrange for installation of yard sign

73 Assist sellers with completion of Seller's Disclosure form

74 "New Listing Checklist" Completed

75 Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and provide suggestions to improve salability

76 Review results of Interior Décor Assessment and suggest changes

to shorten time on market

77 Assign Home Track™ login and password for sellers to check progress


Entering Property in Multiple Listing Service Database

78 Prepare MLS Property Profile Sheet -- Agents is responsible for "quality control" and accuracy of listing data

79 Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS Listing Database

80 Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy - including proper placement in mapping function

81 Add property to company's Active Listings list

82 Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data Entry Form within 48 hours

83 Take additional photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of  panoramic photography

Marketing The Listing

84 Create print and Internet ads with seller's input

85 Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other Realtors®.

Return all calls - weekends included

86 Install electronic lock box if authorized by owner and program with agreed-upon showing time windows

87 Prepare mailing and contact list

88 Generate mail-merge letters to contact list

89 Order "Just Listed" labels & reports

90 Prepare flyers & feedback faxes

91 Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains

competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability

92 Prepare property marketing brochure for seller's review

93 Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or fliers

94 Place marketing brochures in all company agent mail boxes

95 Upload listing to company and agent Internet site, if applicable

96 Mail Out "Just Listed" notice to all neighborhood residents

97 Advise Network Referral Program of listing

98 Provide marketing data to buyers coming through

International relocation networks

99 Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network

100 Provide "Special Feature" cards for marketing, if applicable

101 Submit ads to company's participating Internet real estate sites

102 Price changes conveyed promptly to all Internet groups

103 Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed

104 Loan information reviewed and updated in MLS as required

105 Feedback e-mails/faxes sent to buyers' agents after showings

106 Review weekly Market Study

107 Discuss feedbacks from showing agents with seller to determine

if changes will accelerate the sale

108 Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing & pricing

109 Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database

The Offer and Contract

109 Receive and review all Offers to Purchase contracts submitted by

buyers or buyer's agents.

110 Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet" on each for the owner

for comparison purposes

111 Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer

112 Contact buyers' agents to review buyer's qualifications and discuss offer

113 Fax or deliver Seller's Disclosure form to buyer's agent or buyer (upon request

and prior to offer being made if possible)

114 Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling Loan Officer

115 Obtain pre-qualification letters on buyer from Loan Officer

116 Negotiate all offers on seller's behalf, setting time limit

for loan approval and closing date

117 Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer's agent

118 Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or Title Company

119 When an Offer to Purchase Contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver signed offer to buyer's agent

120 Record and promptly deposit buyer's earnest money in escrow account.

121 Disseminate "Under-Contract Showing Restrictions" as seller requests

122 Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to seller

123 Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to Selling Agent

133 Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender

124 Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file

125 Advise sellers in handling any additional offers to purchase that may be submitted between contract and closing

126 Change status in MLS to "Sale Pending"

127 Update Home Track™ to show "Sale Pending"

128 Review buyer's credit report results -- Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios

129 Provide credit report information to seller if property will be seller-financed

130 Assist buyers with obtaining financing, if applicable and follow-up as necessary

131 Coordinate with lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates

132 Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer

133 Order septic system inspection, if applicable

134 Receive and review septic system report and assess any possible impact on sale

135 Deliver copies of septic system inspection report lender & buyer

136 Deliver Well Flow Test Report copies to lender & buyer and property listing file

137 Verify termite inspections ordered

138 Verify mold inspection ordered, if required


Tracking the Loan Process

139 Confirm Verifications Of Deposit & Buyer's Employment Have Been Returned

140 Follow Loan Processing Through To The Underwriter

141 Add lender and other service vendors to Home Track™ so agents,

buyer and seller can track progress of sale

142 Contact lenders weekly to ensure processing is on track

143 Relay final approval of buyer's loan application to seller

Home Inspection

144 Coordinate buyer's professional home inspection with seller

145 Review home inspector's report

146 Enter completions into Home Track™

147 Explain seller's responsibilities with respect to loan limits

and interpret any clauses in the contract

148 Ensure seller's compliance with Home Inspection Clause requirements

149 Recommend or assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs

150 Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller's behalf, if needed

The Appraisal

151 Schedule Appraisals

154 Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to Appraiser

152 Follow-ups On Appraisal

151 Enter completions into Home Track™

153 Assist sellers in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low

Closing Preparations and Duties

154 Contract is signed by all parties

155 Coordinate closing process with buyer's agent and lender

156 Update closing forms & files

157 Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale

158 Select location where closing will be held

159 Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties

160 Assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc) or in obtaining Death Certificates

161 Work with buyer's agent in scheduling and conducting buyer's

Final Walk-Thru prior to closing

172 Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations

162 Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company)

163 Receive & carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy of preparation

164 Forward verified closing figures to buyer's agent

165 Request copy of closing documents from closing agent

166 Confirm buyers and buyer's agent have received title insurance commitment

167 Provide "Home Owners Warranty" for availability at closing

168 Reviews all closing documents carefully for errors

169 Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested

170 Review documents with closing agent (attorney)

171 Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent

173 Coordinate this closing with seller's next purchase and resolve any timing prpblems

174 Have a "no surprises" closing and present seller a net proceeds check at closing

175 Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable

176 Change MLS listing status to Sold. Enter sale date and price, selling broker and agent's ID numbers, etc.

177 Close out listing in Home Track™

Follow Up After Closing

178 Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company if requested

179 Attempt to clarify and resolve any conflicts about repairs if buyer is not satisfied

180 Respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information