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Buying a Home with an Agent, Broker or Realtor Finding someone to represent you in a real estate transaction is usually challenging. But thanks to the Internet, not only will you find a real estate office on nearly every corner, but you’ll also be able to access to an almost infinite list of prospective agents and brokers. Sorting through all of this can take time and be filled with pitfalls along the way, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. Fortunately, you can get help from many real estate professionals out there. The question is, which one of them – agent, broker or realtor? A lot of times, these terms are used interchangeably and by people who don’t really understand their differences. A real estate agent, for one, is an individual who’s finished some basic training classes and passed a state licensing examination. In short, anyone can practice as a real estate agent as long as they work under a licensed broker. As well, they need to complete a specific number of hours of continuing education courses as a requirement for periodic license renewal.
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On the other hand, a real estate broker, is required to take more classes in different subjects before they qualify to take the broker’s license exam, and take continuing education courses to keep their license active. However, unlike sales agents, brokers can work independently, that is, without being affiliated with another real estate professional.
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As long as they are licensed, brokers and agents alike can legally represent buyers and sellers in any real estate transaction. However, one thing they are not allowed to do is call themselves a REALTOR(R), except when they are members of the National Association of REALTORS(R) (NAR). NAR, which owns REALTOR(R) as a trademark, is known for its very strict Code of Ethics. A Buyer’s Agent and Why You Need One No matter the strength or weakness of the your target area’s housing inventory at any certain time, there are real estate professionals who are not keen on pursuing potential sellers for the purpose of racking up listings. But some agents and brokers actually prefer to only represent buyers, hence they are known as buyers’ agents. While they don’t require a special license for this, NAR has instituted a particular course of study for those who would like to earn the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR(R)) designation. Aside from finishing this course, agents and brokers with this accreditation have also worked on a minimum of five transactions acting exclusively as the buyer’s representative. Definitely, they are also required to be members of good standing of NAR as well as of the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council. As a first-time home buyer, there is no doubt that having a buyer’s agent represent you, is a good step to take, what with their in-depth knowledge and experience with buyers and the buying process.