Value of a Realtor

Surveys show that many homeowners and home buyers are not aware of the true value they receive from the services 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 hard work that go into bringing about a successful transaction were understood and appreciated.

Many of the most important services and steps are performed “behind the scenes” by either the REALTOR® or the brokerage staff and have been traditionally viewed simply as part of their professional responsibilities to their 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.

Completeness of the List

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 the steps to be successful. However, most would given the unexpected complications that can arise, it’s far better to a step and make an intelligent, informed decision that it is not needed, than to not know the possibility even existed.

The REALTOR® Commitment

Through it all, the REALTOR®’S personal and professional commitment is to ensure that a seller and buyer are brought together in an agreement that provides each of them a “win” that is fair and equitable. Their motivation is easy to understand. For most full-service brokerages, there is no compensation unless and until the sale closes. By contrast, there are firms that offer “limited-services” in exchange for either an upfront flat fee or perhaps offer a menu of pay-as-you-go or “a la’ carte” services. Some even offer a sliding scale from limited to full service. In these cases, the REALTOR’S® compensation is based on the level of service they provide. In short, it’s the age-old market adage that “you get what you pay for.”

A Variety of Choices

It can truly be said 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 homeowners choose, before signing a Listing Agreement or otherwise engaging the services of a REALTOR® and agreeing to compensate them, they should understand exactly what specific services will, or will not, be provided.


First, 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 licenses 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®.

The REALTOR’S® Critical Role in the Transaction

Listed here are the 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!

Pre-Listing Activities
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 and home track™ information
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, Solds, Current listings & Expireds
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, Exit and home
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 all 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 assumability 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 lock box
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 saleability
76 Review results of Interior Decor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market

Entering Property in Multiple Listing Service Database
77 Prepare MLS Property Profile Sheet — Agents is responsible for “quality control” and accuracy of listing data
78 Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS Listing Database
79 Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy – including proper placement in mapping function
80 Add property to company’s Active Listings list
81 Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data Entry Form within 48 hours
82 Take photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers.
83 Take numerous panoramic photos to create a Visual Tour of the interior & exterior of the property & promote on www.Tour

Marketing The Listing
84 Create print and Internet ads with seller’s input
85 Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other Realtors®.
86 Return all calls – weekends included
87 Install electronic lock box if authorized by owner and program with agreed-upon showing time windows
88 Prepare mailing and contact list
89 Generate mail-merge letters to contact list
90 Order “Just Listed” labels & reports
91 Prepare flyers & feedback faxes
92 Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability
93 Prepare property marketing brochure for seller’s review
94 Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or fliers
95 Place marketing brochures in all company agent mail boxes
96 Upload listing to company and agent Internet site, if applicable
97 Mail Out “Just Listed” notice to all neighborhood residents
98 Advise Network Referral Program of listing
99 Provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks
100 Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network
101 Provide “Special Feature” cards for marketing, if applicable
102 Submit ads to company’s participating Internet real estate sites
103 Price changes conveyed promptly to all Internet groups
104 Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed
105 Loan information reviewed and updated in MLS as required
106 Feedback e-mails/faxes sent to buyers’ agents after showings
107 Review weekly Market Study
108 Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale
109 Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing& pricing
110 Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database

The Offer and Contract
111 Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyer’s agents.
112 Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a “net sheet” on each for the owner for comparison purposes
113 Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer
114 Contact buyers’ agents to review buyer’s qualifications and discuss offer
115 Fax or deliver Seller’s Disclosure form to buyer’s agent or buyer(upon request and prior to offer being made if possible)
116 Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling Loan Officer
117 Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from Loan Officer
118 Negotiate all offers on seller’s behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date
119 Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer’s agent
120 Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company
121 When an Offer to Purchase Contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver signed offer to buyer’s agent
122 Record and promptly deposit buyer’s earnest money in escrow account.
123 Disseminate “Under-Contract Showing Restrictions” as seller requests
124 Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to seller
125 Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to Selling Agent
126 Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender
127 Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file
128 Advise seller in handling any additional offers to purchase that may be submitted between contract and closing
129 Change status in MLS to “Sale Pending”
130 Update Home track™ to show “Sale Pending”
131 Review buyer’s credit report results — Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios
132 Provide credit report information to seller if property will be seller-financed
133 Assist buyer with obtaining financing, if applicable and follow-up as necessary
134 Coordinate with lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates
135 Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer
136 Order septic system inspection, if applicable
137 Receive and review septic system report and assess any possible impact on sale
138 Deliver copy of septic system inspection report lender & buyer
139 Deliver Well Flow Test Report copies to lender & buyer and property listing file
140 Verify termite inspection ordered
141 Verify mold inspection ordered, if required

Tracking the Loan Process
142 Confirm Verifications Of Deposit & Buyer’s Employment Have Been returned
143 Follow Loan Processing Through To The Underwriter
144 Add lender and other service vendors to Home track™ so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale
145 Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track
146 Relay final approval of buyer’s loan application to seller

Home Inspection
147 Coordinate buyer’s professional home inspection with seller
148 Review home inspector’s report
149 Enter completion into Home track™
150 Explain seller’s responsibilities with respect to loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract
151 Ensure seller’s compliance with Home Inspection Clause requirements
152 Recommend or assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs
153 Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller’s behalf, if needed

The Appraisal
154 Schedule Appraisal
155 Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to Appraiser
156 Follow-Up On Appraisal
157 Enter completion into Home track™
158 Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low

Closing Preparations and Duties
159 Contract Is Signed By All Parties
160 Coordinate closing process with buyer’s agent and lender
161 Update closing forms & files
162 Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale
163 Select location where closing will be held
164 Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties
165 Assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc) or in obtaining Death Certificates
166 Work with buyer’s agent in scheduling and conducting buyer’s

Final Walk-Thru prior to closing
167 Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable
168 Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company)
169 Receive & carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy of preparation
170 Forward verified closing figures to buyer’s agent
171 Request copy of closing documents from closing agent
172 Confirm buyer and buyer’s agent have received title insurance commitment
173 Provide “Home Owners Warranty” for availability at closing
174 Reviews all closing documents carefully for errors
175 Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested
176 Review documents with closing agent (attorney)
177 Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent
178 Coordinate this closing with seller’s next purchase and resolve any timing problems
179 Have a “no surprises” closing and present seller a check at closing
180 Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable
181 Change MLS listing status to Sold. Enter sale date and price, selling broker and agent’s ID numbers, etc.
182 Close out listing in Home track™

Follow Up After Closing
183 Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company if requested
184 Attempt to clarify and resolve any conflicts about repairs if buyer is not satisfied
185 Respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information required from office files.