Many people use the term Realtor to describe someone who is a real estate agent or broker. However, you should know there is a difference between a real estate agent or broker who is a Realtor and one who is not. As a Realtor myself, I believe there are significant advantages for clients who hire a Realtor.
All real estate agents and brokers must be licensed by the state to assist property owners in buying and selling real estate. Only those who choose to become Realtors, however, commit themselves to a higher standard of professional conduct.
This high standard is outlined in the Realtor Code of Ethics, which consists of 17 articles that outline a Realtor's obligations to clients and customers, the public, and to other Realtors. Each article further is further broken down into several standards of practice that outline the conduct a Realtor pledges to abide by. The Realtor Code of Ethics is more than a document of aspirations. It is strictly enforced throughout the Realtor organization to ensure the interests of clients and the public are protected. In fact, anyone can charge a Realtor with an ethics violation, and there are procedures in place to determine if the code has indeed been breached. If so, punishments range from mandatory education to hefty fines - sometimes even suspension of membership in the Realtor organization.
Head of the class
You may have received a business card from a Realtor and noticed a string of letters after his or her name, such as GRI, CRS or ABR. Those letters represent professional designations offered through the Realtor organization and earned through rigorous education courses. Realtors value education. As a buyer or seller, you can benefit from a Realtor's in-depth industry knowledge and expertise that comes from designations earned through the Realtor organization. Each of these designations represents a different type of expertise - perhaps in buyer representation, affordable housing, technological proficiency, a specialty in some aspect of commercial real estate, and others.
Working together on behalf of property owners
You benefit when you work with a Realtor who represents your best interests in a specific real estate transaction. But you also benefit from the actions of Realtors as a whole. Realtors work together to promote the interests of homebuyers and property owners. For example, Realtors were at the front of the charge to provide property-tax relief to homeowners. Realtors also championed legislation to curb the eminent-domain powers of local governments attempting to take property simply because they could make more tax revenue if a commercial interest occupied that land. Realtors were behind the fight for strong homestead protections, making it less likely that a homeowner will find himself in a foreclosure situation.
Working with a Realtor certainly has its advantages for clients. 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 23Nov08 edition of the Galveston County Daily News