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More Buyer Resources - Informative articles about buying real estate.

Unless your best friend or a family member happens to be a real estate agent or broker, the task of selecting someone to represent you in a real estate transaction can be daunting. Thanks to computers and the Internet, today’s buyers have online access to an unlimited number of possible agents and brokers.  In fact, if you searched the terms "Camden Realtor" on Google, there are roughly a dozen websites that will show you upwards of 80 real estate agents who are happy to help you buy a home in the area.  The problem is, you can't find any of them.  We are in the age of the Internet Realtor; agents who work out of their home and have no presence in the community.  You can't walk into their office and talk to them, because they don't have one.  You can't call them and say "I'm on my way to see you" when you have a critical problem, because you don't know where or how to find them.  The Internet Realtor has no presence in the Community, or they work for a large national company whose closest office is two hours away from you.  At Camden Group Realty, your welcome to visit our office anytime; walk-ins are always welcome, and our agents are always available to you after normal business hours.

Sorting through the available agents can be time consuming and fraught with difficulties along the way—especially for first-time home buyers, since they most likely have little or no experience in what’s involved in the real estate buying process. Fortunately, clearing a path through this process is neither hopeless nor impossible. First, there are some basic concepts you need to understand before you start the process.

Agent, Broker or REALTOR®?
Too many times, the terms real estate agent, real estate broker and REALTOR® are used interchangeably by people who don’t know the difference. So let’s clear up the confusion first..

A real estate agent is anyone who’s taken some basic training classes and then has applied for, and passed, a state licensing exam. Basically, anyone can become a real estate agent and continue to practice as long as they hang their sales license with a licensed broker. They’re also required to take a set number of hours of continuing education courses in order to renew their license periodically.

A real estate broker is required to take an additional number of classes in various subjects in order to qualify to sit for the broker’s license exam. Unlike a sales agent, brokers can open their own office without affiliating with anyone else. Brokers must also take continuing education courses in order to keep their license active, and meet other requirements that are beyond the scope of this web page.

Both a real estate broker and a real estate agent, once licensed, can legally represent buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. However, what they cannot do is call themselves a REALTOR® unless they’re a paid-up member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and follow the strict Code of Ethics delineated by that organization. NAR also owns the REALTOR® trademark, and it takes violations of that trademark very seriously. 

Sorting It All Out: Finding Good Representation

Whether or not you sign a contract with them, an agent or broker has a legal responsibility to treat you, and everyone else associated with a real estate transaction, fairly while keeping your information confidential.

Home buyers in particular should take their time in selecting a real estate professional who they feel confident will guide them through the purchase process. In addition to keeping you informed along the way, your agent or broker should be tech-savvy enough to help you do a complete search for all of the inventory currently on the market. That includes all properties available, not just those on the multiple listing service.

In compiling data for its "Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers", the National Association of Realtors found that buyers wanted two things from an agent or broker who represents them: A good reputation in the industry, and honesty.

As a buyer, finding an agent or broker with those qualifications may seem like an insurmountable hurdle, but there are many ways to find someone you’ll trust and feel comfortable working with. One of the best ways is through referrals. Veteran real estate professionals who have been successful over time have survived the many ups and downs of the real estate cycle, mainly thanks to referrals from satisfied clients.

Your best source of referral to a real estate professional is going to be someone you know who has bought or sold real estate and was happy with their agent or broker. A friend, a relative, a business associate, a neighbor—anyone you know who has had a good experience with their agent or broker is going to be a good source for you.

Interviewing a Prospective Agent or Broker
Although it’s not engraved in stone, the industry in general has always recommended that clients—whether buyers or sellers—should personally interview at least three prospects before selecting a real estate professional to represent them. It can be more or less, of course, depending on how comfortable you feel with a particular agent or broker.

Pretty much any topic is open for discussion when it comes to the breadth of questions you can ask a prospect. After all, this is a job interview.

In addition to getting their real estate license number, questions you should be asking include:

How long have you been in the business?
Are you a full-time agent?
Where is your office located?
Have you ever had a complaint filed against you with the South Carolina Labor, Licensing, and Regulation?  (You can always check that out yourself online if you don’t feel comfortable asking.)
How many transactions a year do you average?
What markets do you focus on?
What’s the median price in the markets I want to search?
Ask them about schools, crime rates, shopping centers and entertainment venues. Anything and everything is on the table. And lastly, don’t forget to ask for referrals to former clients who you can call.

Once you find the agent or broker who you feel most comfortable with, and you’re confident in their ability to meet your needs, it’s time to move forward.

Meeting Expectations
As with any agency relationship, there are expectations to be met on both sides: the agent/broker’s and the client’s.

Some of the most reasonable client expectations are that the agent or broker will give their best efforts in negotiating the deal and will assist you through the loan process, as well as order the title report, the appraisal, the building and termite inspections, and arrange for repairs, if necessary.

Finally, clients should not expect their real estate professional to be an accountant, lawyer, or financial adviser.

No matter who you end up hiring, as a home buyer, the most important thing you can do is to cooperate with and assist the real estate professional you’ve chosen as much as you can. That will go a long way to making sure that the purchase process goes as smoothly as possible, and that you end it as a happy homeowner.

The Camden Group, LLC
The Camden Group, LLC
(803) 999-5151

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