Once you’ve determined you’re ready to move, the next step is to engage a real estate agent.
And, with more than 3,500 real estate agents in Northwest Arkansas, you can be quite picky when choosing your listing agent!
In this step we’ll cover what a real estate agent is and does, the agency relationship, how agents get paid and how to find and hire the right agent for you.
A real estate agent is a licensed professional who can negotiate and arrange every element of the sale of your home. Your agent will legally represent you throughout the sale, so it’s important you select someone whom you can trust and feel comfortable.
Real estate agents are independent contractors. They work for themselves, have the ability to choose which firm they work for, and can move between firms at will.
Most agents in NWA are REALTORS. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who belongs to the National Association of Realtors, the largest trade group in the country. Members of this group are held to high ethical standards and must adhere to a REALTOR Code of Ethics.
A real estate agent must work under the supervision of a broker. A broker is a real estate agent who has completed specific requirements granting them the ability to start their own real estate company and hire, supervise, and train agents to work under them. However, not all brokers wish to start their own companies. Therefore, your local real estate firm could have one principle broker and multiple executive brokers who can all oversee transactions and train new sales agents.
When you hire a real estate agent, you and your agent will enter into a relationship known as agency. By consenting to the relationship, you both agree to uphold your duties to one another throughout the business transaction of selling your home.
Agency relationships are fiduciary relationships, meaning they require a high level of trust and confidence. In this relationship the actions of your agent creates legal obligations for you so they must be trusted to make decisions based on your best interests.
Agency can be expressed or implied, and in some cases an agent may represent both a buyer and a seller in the same transaction as a duel agent.
The majority of agents in Northwest Arkansas are paid on a commission basis.
Your agent will get paid at closing when the sale of your home is finalized. The most common real estate commission fee in NWA is 6% of a home’s sales price.
The full amount of commission is charged to the seller (deducted from the seller’s net at closing) and the full commission is then split between the buyer agent and the listing agent.
Did you know that real estate agents often make a commission on referrals? Let’s say you meet John Realtor through a friend. You feel like he is trustworthy, but you’re worried he doesn’t know much about your Bentonville neighborhood.
Most REALTORS have a network of agent contacts who specialize in other markets. Therefore, you can ask John to refer you to an agent who is familiar with your specific neighborhood. And, if you use his contact, John can still receive a nice percentage of the commission on your home when it sells.
Additionally, if you are moving to another area in Arkansas or out of state, your NWA agent can interview and help you find a REALTOR to help you buy a house when you get where you’re going. Your NWA agent will then get a referral fee from your buyers agent when you close on your new home.
While some aspects of an agents’ job – like commission percentages and signage requirements – may be regulated by their broker, most services offered to clients by their agents are determined by the agent themselves.
As independent contractors, agents decide how much they work and how much they spend on marketing campaigns etc. Therefore, services and the quality of services can vary from agent to agent, even within the same firm.
Additionally, it is often difficult to know an agents expertise from their title. For example, it’s possible that an agent who has been in the business for 20 years has more experience than a broker who has been in the business for 4 years.
Most agents have a specific niche. A real estate license gives an agent the ability to help their clients buy or sell most any type of real estate, from large commercial warehouses to small residential starter homes. Therefore, many NWA agents focus their attention on a specific type of real estate, client, and/or market.
Ever wonder what the acronyms next to a real estate agents name mean? These stand for various real estate designations which show that an agent is specialized to help clients in a particular niche. An agent with the SRS (Seller Representative Specialist) designation, for example, may be a more seasoned listing agent who works primarily with sellers.
As you can see, not all real estate agents are created equal in experience or service. Don’t settle. Take the time to find the right agent for you and the property you plan to sell.
FIND THE BEST FIT
It’s common for sellers to simply hire an agent that was recommended by a friend. Referrals from friends and family are a great place to start, but before you commit make sure they are the best fit for the property you wish to sell. After all, an agent who helped your friend sell a $400,000 home in Bentonville may not be as familiar with the market and features of your $200,000 home in west Fayetteville.
We’ve made the agent interviewing process even easier by asking NWA agents these questions for you! Head to our Find An Agent Directory to read their responses and find the agent that’s best suited to your specific needs.
Once you’ve selected an agent, it’s important to complete the agreement in writing before getting started. To do this, your NWA agent will ask you to sign a document called an Exclusive Right to Sell. This is a contract between you and your agent’s firm outlining the terms of the listing agreement and making your agent’s firm the legal representative for the sale of your home.
By signing the Exclusive Right to Sell you are creating an expressed agency relationship with your agent and agreeing to perform the duties required of you throughout the course of the transaction. One of these duties includes your responsibility to pay the agreed upon commission, no matter who the eventual buyer of your property is or how the sale is procured (unless an individual or other entity is specifically exempted in the agreement).
In order to complete the agreement, you will need to know the answers to the following items: