In working with buyers and sellers over the years, I've learned that people often have misperceptions about Realtors. After all, some folks have never bought or sold property; many others only are involved in a real estate transaction every decade or two. I'd like to take this opportunity to clear up some of that confusion.
That agent may not be a Realtor
I can't tell you how many people I encounter think the term Realtor is synonymous with real estate agent. It isn't so. An agent is a person who is licensed to sell real estate. But only an agent who also belongs to the National Association of Realtors may legally call him or herself a Realtor.
Realtors belong to not only the national association, but also their state and local Realtor associations. All Realtors pledge to abide by a strict code of professional conduct. Any member of the public or another Realtor who feels that a Realtor has not upheld the code of ethics may charge that Realtor with a violation. Punishment for those found to have violated the code of conduct ranges from a letter of warning to a $5,000 fine or even termination of Realtor membership. If you want to know if a particular agent is a Realtor, ask what local association of Realtors she belongs to.
Agent or broker?
People also often use the words agent and broker interchangeably. Again, they have different meanings. All agents must be sponsored by a broker. The broker is ultimately responsible for all real estate transactions in which agents of that firm are involved. In Texas, a broker must have at least two years experience as a salesperson (agent), additional real estate education, and must pass an additional licensing exam.
It takes time and effort to get a license
If you know someone who says it's easy to get a real estate license, that person either doesn't know what he's talking about or is relying on outdated information. Yes, it once was not too challenging to obtain a real estate license in Texas, but the requirements have become increasingly more stringent over the years. Not only must aspiring agents take hundreds of hours of courses and pass an exam, but existing licensees also are required to take continuing education to keep their licenses active. Applicants and existing licensees also undergo criminal background checks.
Show me the money
Real estate agents make a bunch of money, right? Some do. But it's not as common as you might think. The national median income for Realtors in 2007 was $47,700. Keep in mind that many real estate agents work only on commission. An agent may put in weeks or even months of work on a transaction and not see a penny of compensation if the deal falls apart.
Another belief along the same lines is that Realtors are just in it for the money. Don't get me wrong - most people I know in this business do want to make a comfortable living. (In that way, Realtors are no different from college professors, electricians, accountants, and most other people.) However, the majority of Realtors I know got into this business because it is tremendously gratifying to help a person or family buy or sell a home.
I hope you now have a better understanding of Realtors.
Whether you're interested in buying your first home, your next home, or just want to know more about home-ownership in general, I encourage you to check out a couple of great online resources: http://www.texasrealestate.com/ or http://www.har.com/ and for all of your Pearland TX and Northern Brazoria and Galveston County real estate needs, please visit my site at http://www.danfrankrealty.com. All of these sites offer tons of useful, real estate-related information geared specifically for Texans.
Danny Frank is a local Pearland TX Real Estate expert
This column was published in the 14Sept08 edition of the Galveston County Daily News