Realtor or Estate Agent - what's the difference?
In Britain, property buyers are accustomed to working with many estate agents to be sure that they see all properties that are available in the market. In the States however, the way things work when purchasing a house or an apartment is very different. We asked AIPP member and Florida based Realtor Patricia Tan to explain…
Multiple Listing System
Here in Florida, we have the benefit of a computerized Multiple Listing System (MLS). The system contains details of all properties that are available in a specific market, and can be accessed by all licensed realtors. Any realtor can have access to, and show buyers any property listed for sale. This means that buyers do not have to go from agent to agent to see multiple properties. One agent can show all suitable homes to a buyer.
This “sharing between agents” of properties listed for sale allows buyers to choose one realtor to work with. Someone they feel comfortable with, and who has knowledge of the local market as well as issues you need to be aware of as a foreign buyer.
Realtors in the United States are licensed by the State
Realtors in the United States are licensed by the State and need to undertake continuing education classes every two years. They perform a very comprehensive range of duties when compared to the typical British estate agent. For example, they actually prepare a standard contract at the time an offer is made – no waiting for lawyers and giving the seller an opportunity to change their minds! Your agent will represent you during the negotiations.
As all property listings are shared, it is less likely the agent will be working directly for the seller. The realtor will also introduce you to, and co-ordinate with, other professionals who will be needed for a successful transaction – surveyor, home inspector, banker, property manager, mortgage lender etc. The best part is that all of these additional services are made available to you the buyer at no cost. The agent who is working with the seller shares commission with the buyer’s agent –no charge made directly to the buyer!
The challenge to British buyers is to change the way they think about buying a property. Most focus their energies entirely on property selection from day one. However, the way the American system works means they should focus on selecting the right agent first.
What should you look for in an agent? How do you select the best agent for you? Watch for another article that will answer those important questions!
Top Things to Know About Working with a REALTOR® in the USA – coming soon!
Our thanks to Patricia Tan for this article – scroll down for more details.