Whether you’re on the buying or selling end of a real estate transaction, the process can often be a complicated one, especially for first-timers. Buying or selling a home is unlike any other type of transaction and can be filled with all sorts of complexities that the average person will have trouble handling appropriately.
The role of the real estate agent cannot be understated. Given the magnitude of such a transaction, it makes sense to have some professional assistance along the way to ensure that the right decisions are made.
These professionals do a lot more than just plant a For Sale sign on the front lawn or drive buyers around to look at different houses. Instead, their scope is much deeper than that and they perform tasks that are typically not seen nor understood by the clients they serve.
Here is the role of the real estate agent when representing sellers and why they are invaluable for a successful real estate transaction.
For starters, every real estate agent owes their clients a fiduciary duty, which means the agent is required to ensure the best interests of the client are met. That said, all other parties involved in the transaction must also be treated fairly and honestly, including other agents and their clients.
The listing agent will speak in-depth with seller clients to get a sense of what their goals are and what they expect to happen in the transaction. The agent will also inform the seller about what will happen throughout the process so that they are adequately prepared.
The agent will assess the type of buyers in the area and will make suggestions about how the home should be prepared to attract this particular pool of buyers. This can include anything from de-cluttering, to painting the walls, to sprucing up the landscaping, and so forth. Often a professional home stager may be recommended to enhance the home and boost the odds of attracting the right buyer.
One of the more important aspects that will be discussed is the listing price. The agent will research all comparable properties in the area that are currently listed, and will also pull a report of similar homes in the area that have recently sold. A comparative market analysis (CMA) will be prepared that will assist the agent in researching and comparing similar properties to establish an appropriate listing price.
This price will then be presented to the seller along with an explanation as to how this number was derived. Ultimately, however, it’s up to the seller to make the final decision about the listing price, though sellers are strongly recommended to heed the advice of their agents.
During this phase of the transaction, the agent will also research the property’s deed and ownership type, zoning and current use, and prepare the listing presentation package with all pertinent materials.
Market the Listing
This task is a critical one, as it will dictate how successful the listing will be at attracting the right buyers. The property will be entered into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database, ensuring that all information included is accurate and up-to-date. The property will be added to the agency’s active listings list.
Photos of the property will be taken, preferably by a professional photographer. If agreed to by the seller, a video of the property may also be filmed, and a virtual tour may also be prepared. These photos will then be included in the MLS listing profile that buyers will be able to view online.
In addition to online advertising, the agent will also prepare traditional print marketing packages, such as flyers, booklets, and other forms of print to be distributed.
Thanks to agents’ wide range of contacts in the industry, the property’s listing will be networked to generate some buzz. All calls regarding the property will be funneled through to the agent, who will answer all questions that clients and other agents may have. Any showings will be scheduled through the agent’s office, which will be verified and confirmed by the seller. This task alone is extremely time-consuming, especially for a hot property.
Review All Offers
When an offer comes through, the listing agent will review and evaluate it will the seller and will offer opinions based on current market conditions and other comparable sales. After this discussion, the agent will contact the buyer’s agent to review the qualifications of their client and discuss the offer.
Should there be multiple offers on the same property, the agent will prepare a chart for comparison purposes to help the seller assess each offer relative to each other. The agent will then help the seller decide which offer to work with and negotiate from there.
At this point, the agent will take the reigns in terms of negotiating all aspects of the offer, including the offer price, deposit amount, closing date, contingencies, and so forth. Should the seller want to counter the offer, the agent will make the necessary preparations. The agent will also continue to negotiate into the escrow process even after an offer has been accepted, such as home inspection requests that are pretty common.
The paperwork involved in a real estate transaction is incredibly lengthy and complex. Since the documents involved are legal contracts, they are binding on all parties who sign them. Any small error or omission can cause a delay in the transaction or even leave one party in legal hot water. The real estate agent will help review all documents very carefully to ensure they are completed in full and with impeccable accuracy.
Guide Through Escrow
There are tons of possible scenarios that may play out during the escrow process before the deal closes for good. There will usually be financing approval on the part of the buyer, a home inspection, title search, appraisal, and so forth. The listing agent will keep tabs on all occurrences that play out throughout the escrow process and keep the seller informed and up-to-date.
If any further haggling is required, the agent will negotiate any requests from the buyer. Usually, the home inspection will spark the need for more wheeling and dealing if any issues are discovered that the buyer may want the seller to rectify.
Prepare For Closing
After all contingencies throughout the escrow process have been either fulfilled or waived, the closing process can start. The final walk-through will be scheduled and coordinated with the seller and buyer to ensure the property is in the same condition it was in when the buyer agreed to put in an offer.
A date and time for closing will be selected that suits all parties, and any title issues (such as easements or boundary conflicts) will be resolved. All final closing figures from the closing agent will be reviewed to make sure there are no errors. Once all tasks have been checked off and closing takes place, the listing agent will update the listing and show it as “sold” in the MLS.
Follow Up After Closing
Once the deal is sealed, the listing agent will follow up with the seller to make sure all is well. If there are any questions, they will be answered appropriately. If any issues creep up from the buyer, they will be resolved accordingly.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, the job of the real estate agent is quite detailed, and the items listed above only scratch the surface of the job of the real estate agent. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you probably never see or hear about, and it’s all done to ensure that all bases are covered and your best interests are looked after. Before you even consider buying or selling, be sure to enlist the services of an experienced real estate professional to represent you.