Surveys show that many homeowners and homebuyers are not aware of the true value 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 by the consumer. Many of the most important services and steps are performed behind the scenes by either the REALTOR® or the brokerage staff and traditionally have been viewed simply as part of their professional responsibilities to the client. But, without them, the transaction could be placed in jeopardy.
This publication seeks to close that gap.
Listed on the following pages are nearly 200 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.
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 these steps to be equally 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 to skip it, than to not know the possibility even existed.
The REALTOR® Commitment
Through it all, the personal and professional commitment of the REALTOR® is to ensure that a seller and buyer are brought together in an agreement that provides each with a “win” that is fair and equitable.
The motivation is easy to understand. For most full-service brokerages, they receive no compensation unless and until the sale closes.
By contrast, there are firms that offer “limited services” in exchange for an up-front flat fee, or perhaps offer a menu of pay-as-you-go or “a la’ carte” options.
Some even offer a sliding scale ranging from limited to full service. In these cases, the compensation of the REALTOR® is based on these reduced service levels with the seller bearing full responsibility for all the other steps and procedures in the selling process.
In short, the marketplace truism is that “you get what you pay for.”
A Variety of Choices
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 is chosen, before signing a Listing Agreement or otherwise engaging the services of a REALTOR® and agreeing to compensate them, homeowners should understand exactly what services will, or will not, be provided.
Why Use A REALTOR®?
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 licensees 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®. Visit Florida’s website, myfloridalicense.com, to verify that the person who wants to represent you is a licensee in good standing with the State of Florida.
The Critical Role of the REALTOR®
Listed here are nearly 200 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 today’s 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!
1 Make appointment with seller for listing presentation 2 Send seller 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 lay-out 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 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 power of web marketing, 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 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, 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 assumable status 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 manager if applicable 49 Verify Home Owner Association Fees with manager - mandatory or optional and current annual fee 50 Order copy 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 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 seller 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 Load listing into transaction management software program Entering Property in Multiple Listing Service Database 78 Prepare MLS 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 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. 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 feedback 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 110 Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers' agents. 111 Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet" on each for the owner for comparison purposes 112 Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer 113 Contact buyers' agents to review buyer's qualifications and discuss offer 114 Fax/deliver Seller's Disclosure to buyer's agent or buyer upon request and prior to offer if possible 115 Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling Loan Officer 116 Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from Loan Officer 117 Negotiate all offers on seller's behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date 118 Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer's agent 119 Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company 120 When Offer to Purchase Contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver to buyer's agent 121 Record and promptly deposit buyer's earnest money in escrow account. 122 Disseminate "Under-Contract Showing Restrictions" as seller requests 123 Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to seller 124 Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to Selling Agent 125 Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender 126 Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file 127 Advise seller in handling additional offers to purchase submitted between contract and closing 128 Change status in MLS to "Sale Pending" 129 Update transaction management program to show "Sale Pending" 130 Review buyer's credit report results -- Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios 131 Provide credit report information to seller if property will be seller-financed 132 Assist buyer with obtaining financing, if applicable and follow-up as necessary 133 Coordinate with lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates 134 Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer 135 Order septic system inspection, if applicable 136 Receive and review septic system report and assess any possible impact on sale 137 Deliver copy of septic system inspection report lender & buyer 138 Deliver Well Flow Test Report copies to lender & buyer and property listing file 139 Verify termite inspection ordered 140 Verify mold inspection ordered, if required Tracking the Loan Process 141 Confirm Verifications Of Deposit & Buyer's Employment Have Been Returned 142 Follow Loan Processing Through To The Underwriter 143 Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale 144 Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track 145 Relay final approval of buyer's loan application to seller Home Inspection 146 Coordinate buyer's professional home inspection with seller 147 Review home inspector's report 148 Enter completion into transaction management tracking software program 149 Explain seller's responsibilities with respect to loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract 150 Ensure seller's compliance with Home Inspection Clause requirements 151 Recommend or assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs 152 Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller's behalf, if needed The Appraisal 153 Schedule Appraisal 154 Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to Appraiser 155 Follow-Up On Appraisal 156 Enter completion into transaction management program 157 Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low Closing Preparations and Duties 158 Contract Is Signed By All Parties 159 Coordinate closing process with buyer's agent and lender 160 Update closing forms & files 161 Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale 162 Select location where closing will be held 163 Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties 164 Assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc) or in obtaining Death Certificates 165 Work with buyer's agent in scheduling and conducting buyer's Final Walk-Thru prior to closing 166 Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable proration 167 Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company) 168 Receive & carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy of preparation 169 Forward verified closing figures to buyer's agent 170 Request copy of closing documents from closing agent 171 Confirm buyer and buyer's agent have received title insurance commitment 172 Provide "Home Owners Warranty" for availability at closing 173 Review all closing documents carefully for errors 174 Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested 175 Review documents with closing agent (attorney) 176 Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent 177 Coordinate this closing with seller's next purchase and resolve any timing problems 178 Have a "no surprises" closing so that seller receives a net proceeds check at closing 179 Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable 180 Change MLS status to Sold. Enter sale date, price, selling broker and agent's ID numbers, etc. 181 Close out listing in transaction management program Follow Up After Closing 182 Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company if requested 183 Attempt to clarify and resolve any conflicts about repairs if buyer is not satisfied 184 Respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information required from office files.
------- Tom Scaglione, ePRO, SFR, REALTOR Future Home Realty, Inc. eMail: Tom@RealEstateTom.com Cell: 813-310-8200
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