How does a ‘Realtor’ do things differently from a ‘broker’ or ‘estate agent’ while helping you buy your new home?
Traditionally the role of a broker, estate agent or even the real estate consultant, was more an exercise that was all about ‘finger pointing’ (showing properties) and ‘match making’ (bringing prospective buyer and sellers to a meeting). It was something which didn’t call for any specialised skills, and just about anyone could become a ‘broker’, given the absence of entry barriers to the trade. As a result, all kinds of people entered what was euphemistically called the ‘business of broking’.
The home seeker found himself/ herself at times, getting the muddy end of the stick – when the property papers were not in order, or some legal aspects were left undone and so on. What added to home seekers’ concerns were the ‘fly by night’ operators, who gave a bad name to the ‘business of broking’ and caused serious problems for the few genuine brokers in the business.
There was the need for an intermediary who would be a bit of everything that real estate is about – finance, legalities, documentation, registration formalities, interiors and even Vaastu and Feng Shui! There is one category of real estate intermediary, who fulfils all of these - the modern-day avataar of a real estate consultant, better known as a ‘Realtor’.
So, if ‘due diligence’ is a must while buying a home, then having the right intermediary to ensure your due diligence is done the right way calls for a specialist: a Realtor.
Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors – India, the apex body of realtors. They are no longer confined to the sidelines of the real estate sector, but are the real protagonists who advise, inform, connect, negotiate and ensure the home seeker gets his home the transparent, safe and secure way.
How is a Realtor different from real estate broker of the past? A Realtor is knowledgeable, understands the nitty-gritty of the business, and is constantly evolving and keeping in tune with the times. The role of a Realtor evolves from that of a broker who would just ‘finger point’ to being a true consultant in all senses of a real estate transaction. So, the Realtor needs to have all round knowledge of not just real estate but all peripheral areas like housing finance, property laws, insurances related to real estate, property management services, etc.
A Realtor should be able to represent both, buyer and seller as their consultant, and ensure that their interests are protected at all times, as also that the entire process of the deal is not only transparent but also hassle free. The Realtor should have excellent networking skills with affiliated professionals like advocates, architects, builders and all related professionals. The Realtor also needs to be effectively networked with other realtors in different locations so as to do business in other areas and represent his clients in areas outside his jurisdiction.
Even in the new age era when developers opt for ‘direct marketing’, realtors hold a very important role in ensuring that the home seekers’ once-in-a-life dream home acquisition doesn’t run into rough weather. And again here, how smooth the process is, depends on what your Realtor does for you. A Realtor has to be ready to walk that extra mile to make the transition smooth, hassle free and memorable in more sense than one – and that depends on how well a home seeker chooses the intermediary. The smart ones will opt for a Realtor!
What a Realtor should offer a home seeker. First and foremost, the Realtor should be full time in business – part timers in ‘business of broking’ are not serious about their work and can’t represent the clients faithfully and do justice to their deals.
Second is qualification – a well educated and qualified Realtor will certainly be more professional than his counterparts. Third, does he operate from an office – will he / she be accessible when the home seeker needs him? Also, a Realtor should have assistants and fully equipped office so that customers can be attended to when he is not around. Ideally, avoid brokers who are one man office and don’t have time for all their clients.
A Realtor should have all round knowledge of current market scenario, rates, developments besides legal aspects, etc. He should also have a good reputation – one can get references from past clients, ask about his service levels, his scope of services etc. last, but not the least, check if he is a member of any real estate association.That will show if he is a part of the organised fraternity.
Finally, three points on how important a Realtor is: First, typically home buying/selling is the single most important decision in one’s life especially for those who come from the middle class. So, it makes sense to get an expert to guide you in the process. Second, the Realtor’s experience will guide you through the complex maze of buying/selling a property and also advice you on the reputation of various builders and projects, current market scenario and the various pitfalls, so that the client can stay away from problems.
Finally, a Realtor can be a one point contact for all the different components that go in a deal like housing finance, legal, interiors, etc - more like a Single Stop Boutique in realty shopping.
So before you commit to use the services of a broker/ consultant next time, consider these aspects. Consider how the Realtor does it differently, and this will definitely make sure that you get your money’s worth for the brokerage that you, as a home seeker pay.
By Ramprasad Padhi