Home improvement and real estate reality shows make the life of a REALTOR® look pretty simple—make a few phone calls, open a few doors, collect a commission check. But like everything else on TV, there is much more going on behind the scenes.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find the role of a real estate agent is pretty complex.

So, if you’re wondering what REALTORS® do to earn their paycheck, we’ve put together a list of some of their most important responsibilities.

They educate you on the market

An experienced agent provides data on the local market and educates you on the purchase or listing process in the current environment.

Today’s market, for instance, is like none we’ve seen before — interest rates are at all-time lows, buyer demand is high, homes are selling lightning-fast, prices continue to rise, and inventory is still extremely low. All of this has created a historic seller’s market, and buyers and sellers need to be prepared before jumping in.

They help you find the right home

An experienced agent helps buyers identify their priorities and narrow their search while providing counsel on location and other factors. Remember, finding the right home goes beyond square footage. REALTORS® live and breathe real estate every day, and they can share information about a home that you wouldn’t otherwise know.

They look out for your best financial interests

When you partner with a REALTOR®, you’re working with a professional who adheres to a strict code of ethics established by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). As part of this code, REALTORS® promise to "protect and promote" their clients’ best interests. This means you have an expert partner who is contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you.

“Our goal is to help our clients meet their objectives while also ensuring that they make sound financial decisions,” said REALTOR® Chris Dean, broker/owner of Gateway to Homes at Keller Williams. “We don’t want buyers to overpay, and we don’t want sellers to leave any money on the table. In this fast-moving market it’s easy for clients to let emotions cloud their judgement, but your REALTOR® is there to provide unbiased, expert advice.”

They tap into their network

REALTORS® have a Rolodex of reputable lenders, inspectors, and other industry professionals at their fingertips. Most REALTORS® also have a large network of other agents, giving them first-hand knowledge of homes available for sale.

A seller’s agent also utilizes their network when marketing a property. An experienced agent knows what technique will work best for a certain home and market. And while advertising is important, it’s your REALTOR® 's connections that will likely seal the deal. In fact, NAR studies show that 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts from previous clients, referrals, friends, family, and personal contacts.

They negotiate on your behalf

In this market, homes that are priced-right and in good condition are receiving multiple offers. For buyers, a professional REALTOR® will help you draft a strong offer that stands out from the competition. And Dean says that for sellers, your REALTOR® will help you objectively evaluate buyer proposals.

“For instance, one buyer may offer $30,000 over the asking price, which can be enticing, but a closer look may show that they’re using an unknown lender or maybe the offer is contingent on the buyer selling their current house,” she said. “Sometimes the terms of the sale can be just as important—if not more important—than price.”  

And remember, the initial agreement is only the beginning of the process. Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations. In today’s market, things can get a little heated with lots of competition, including all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Who better to have on your side than a savvy and professional negotiator to seal the best deal for you?”

They handle massive amounts of paperwork

The documents, disclosures, and contracts that go along with a real estate transaction can be exhaustive. Today’s contracts can be up to 50 pages long, not including addendums and riders, and all this confusing paperwork can lead to mistakes. In the world of real estate, mistakes can cost money and can potentially have legal ramifications.    

However, you limit the chance for error when you work with a REALTOR®. These professionals handle complex paperwork every day and they must stay current with all the updates in regulations, laws, contracts, and practices.

They are problem solvers

From the offer to the closing table, there are a lot of things that can come up, including repairs, financing obstacles or title issues.  

“A REALTOR® will help navigate the real estate minefield from start to finish, alleviating stress for both buyers and sellers,” said Dean. “When dealing with a financial purchase this large, I can’t stress enough the importance of working with an agent. Not only will it make the process easier on you, but in the end, your pocketbook will thank you.”

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