Practical Advice for Selecting a Real Estate Professional
Choose a real estate professional with as much care as you would a lawyer or doctor. Friends, neighbors and co-workers are often a good source for referrals. Ask them about their home buying or selling experience – what kind of service did they receive and would they choose this particular agent or real estate brokerage company again?
In Ohio, both buyers and sellers have the right to representation in real estate transactions.
Buyers Under OH law, real estate agents must discuss/explain buyer representation with prospective buyers before showing property. A buyer may choose to be represented or to proceed without representation.
A buyer choosing representation will be asked to sign a Consumer Guide to Agency Relationships. This agreement is a contract between the buyer and the real estate company and, to be valid, must include the beginning and ending date, the geographical area it covers, a compensation provision, and the signatures of the parties. A buyer who signs the Consumer Guide to Agency Relationships can be shown all listings on the market.
A buyer choosing to proceed without representation will be asked to sign the Agency Disclosure Statement. This document is a disclosure notice, not a contract, and states that the buyer understands that the real estate company represents the seller’s interests and chooses to be unrepresented. This disclosure notice is signed when the buyer wishes to see only that company’s listings.
Sellers Sellers who choose to be represented by a real estate company sign a Consumer Guide to Agency Relationships and a Listing Agreement, but how does a seller know which company to choose? Some sellers attend open houses to observe listing agents in action, noting their familiarity with the property, their expertise and professionalism, and others look for “sold” signs in the area, read newspaper ads, and then interview several agents.
When interviewing an agent, some questions you might ask include:
- How long have you been licensed?
- How long have you actively worked in this area?
- Are you a member of the National Association of REALTORS®?
- Do you work full time as a REALTOR®?
- Have you earned any professional real estate designations?
- How many home sales have you closed in the last three months?
- How will you market my home to prospective buyers?
- How close are your sales prices to your listing prices?
- How long does it take for your listings to sell?
Once you’ve narrowed your choice to two or three professionals, you may wish to check with the Ohio Division of Real Estate at 614.466.4100 or www.com.ohio.gov/real to ensure the agent you choose has an active license in good standing.
When selecting a real estate professional, be mindful that not all real estate licensees are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark which identifies real estate practitioners who belong to the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics.
In the end, it comes down to trust. Whether you are a home buyer or seller, you have important decisions to make and will be relying on a real estate professional for guidance, so be sure to choose a REALTOR® that you feel has the ability and expertise to help you in your transaction.