Barbara Womack Rhyne

REALTOR, Assoc. Broker, CRS, ePro, GRI

Let's say you've decided to remodel. Although you may be somewhat handy, you know you're better off hiring an expert, someone who knows the ins and outs, who's familiar with regulations and red tape. After all, why take a risk and go it alone when this little venture may drain your checkbook of a few thousand dollars?

Now consider a home sale transaction. In this case, a buyer or seller may have many reasons for involving a professional. Given the sizeable monetary outlay-possibly the single largest financial transaction in a person's lifetime-it seems reasonable, even smart, to call in a specialist. Not surprisingly, most Americans do. According to the National Association of REALTORS? (2000 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers), close to 4 out of 5 existing homes in the U.S. have been entrusted to real estate professionals.

What can real estate professionals do for you? Sales associates have evolved from being singularly focused on the purchase or sale of a property to being multifaceted and hands-on, where they typically provide countless services to ensure clients a painless transaction. For example, a sales associate may introduce buyers to new neighbors and assist with registering children at school. A relocation specialist may act as a single point of contact to coordinate all aspects of the move, provide a relocation kit as well as personalized relocation counseling, arrange and lead an area orientation tour, and more, depending on client need.

Sales associates rely on specialized knowledge and experience to move easily in and out of these various roles during a single transaction:

  • Marketing Manager - To position a home to sell quickly and at a profit, a comprehensive marketing strategy needs to be developed. Successful strategies generally include sharing information through the local multiple listing service, promoting the home to other sales associates, placing ads, featuring the home on the broker's website, developing fact sheets, installing a yard sign, and planning and conducting open houses. A sales associate can handle calls, schedule appointments and show the home for you.

  • Transaction Coordinator - As a single point of contact, a sales associate can manage the entire transaction including coordinating inspections, keeping in touch with the other agent, managing the documentation for the loan process or following up on the progress of the buyer's loan, monitoring deadlines associated with contingencies, providing applicable paperwork, estimating closing costs, and helping prepare for a smooth and uneventful closing.

  • Community Consultant - A sales associate can be a great resource, especially to homebuyers relocating from other communities. He or she knows the local area including home values, taxes, utility costs, and school data, and may even be knowledgeable about resources pertaining to your special interests or needs. For instance, should you require help relocating an aging parent with you, your sales associate may be able to direct you to local services or organizations for the elderly.

  • Property Specialist - A sales associate can assist buyers with identifying houses that meet their needs and provide objective information about each property. For sellers, a sales associate can determine a realistic selling price based on comparable sales, local market conditions and motivation to sell in addition to advising sellers on how to prepare the property to be shown.

  • Skilled Negotiator - Buyers and sellers benefit from working with a strong advocate during the negotiating process. A sales associate can help you objectively evaluate an offer then work to negotiate a favorable contract. During the process, he or she will review the contract and obligations before you sign, explain how contingencies and release clauses work, and so on.

  • Trusted Advisor - A sales associate can familiarize you with the processes involved in buying or selling a home, alert you to potential risks, help you determine how much house you can afford, explain alternative financing strategies, as well as provide tremendous moral support.
Get Full Value with a Full Time Real Estate Professional Your home is probably your largest and most treasured asset. Buying and selling homes involves complicated transactions, careful marketing, skillful negotiating and a professional who will network effectively on your behalf.

Among the many changes in recent years that demand significant time from a real estate professional are the innovations made possible by the Internet. A savvy real estate professional today knows how-to find and market homes online and on the Internet using a variety of techniques. Not all of these are obvious to the average Internet user and some, such as area multiple listing service systems, remain exclusively available to real estate professionals. New websites are born everyday and old ones go away. Keeping up with these changes could keep an entire team of professionals busy, let alone a part-time real estate sales professional.

Changes in real estate marketing require a skillful professional as well. The advances in desktop publishing and four-color printing technology mean a wider variety of low cost and highly targeted print advertising vehicles are available to the real estate professional seeking to attract buyers and sellers on your behalf. When you list your home with a real estate professional, you want to know that they have the time to access the latest in direct marketing technology on your behalf. Not that your real estate professional creates the ads or sends all the letters that promote your property, but a cost-effective marketing campaign requires a knowledgeable decision-maker to choose the best tools from among the myriad of marketing vehicles and technologies available today.

One of the key functions of a real estate professional is to bring buyers and sellers together. While a local multiple listing service provides a real estate professional with a guide to properties currently on the market, the raw data is only the beginning of the process of putting buyers and sellers together. A real estate professional must spend a good deal of time becoming knowledgeable on the communities and neighborhoods served, developing resources to answer questions about area schools, taxes, recreational amenities and other issues. In addition, your real estate professional should spend countless hours on home tours becoming intimately familiar with the details of available properties. Peer-to-peer networking among real estate professionals is a key source of the buyers and sellers that are matched together and a key to knowing about properties before they even go on the market.

Buyers seeking highly attractive properties can lose out on a real estate opportunity in a matter of hours if their property search is handled haphazardly. Sellers hoping to attract a buyer would be disappointed to know that a potential buyer saw another home before theirs simply because their real estate professional was unable to show the home at a convenient time.

One of the most critical roles played by your real estate professional is in the negotiation phase. Negotiations over the terms of a home purchase contract can be extremely sensitive. A real estate professional needs to be available to respond quickly and turnaround offers and counteroffers at any time.

A real estate professional stands ready to deliver full value in response to your home buying and selling needs.