When you're looking for help buying or selling property, it's important to remember that the terms"real estate agent"and"REALTOR®"are not synonymous. REALTORs® can provide an extra level of service, and to be a REALTOR® you must be a member of the National Association of REALTORs®. The NAR is a non-profit trade organization that promotes high professional standards in real estate information, education and professional standards.
The National Association of REALTORs® also has earned a strong reputation for actively championing private property rights and working to make home ownership affordable and accessible.
Code of Ethics
NAR and CREA members adhere to a strict code of ethics founded on the principle of providing fair and honest service to all consumers. REALTOR® business practices are monitored at local board levels. Arbitration and disciplinary systems are in place to address complaints from the public or board members.
This local oversight keeps REALTORs® directly accountable to the individual consumers they serve. Real estate licensees who are not REALTORs®, work solely under state/provincial licensing regulations.
RE/MAX Agents are REALTORs®
RE/MAX real estate agents are required to be REALTORs® as a condition of membership in the RE/MAX organization. As a percentage of membership, RE/MAX agents hold more REALTOR® professional designations compared to any other national or international company.
The various designations are a symbol of achieving and maintaining advanced levels of education in real estate sales and marketing. Look for the REALTOR® or "R" logo when shopping for real estate assistance, for assurance of ethical standards and commitment to the community.
Link a RE/MAX agent to that "R" for additional assurance of experience, productivity and advanced education.
A REALTOR® (or REALTOR®) is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORs® (NAR) a membership organization of some 720,000 real estate agents in the United States. In Canada, the corresponding professional organization is the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). A licensed real estate agent does not have to be a member of NAR or CREA to practice real estate.
In real estate, a broker has earned a broker's license. Many brokers own their own real estate office and are"brokers of record,"with other real estate agents"hanging their license"under the broker of record. About 40 percent of RE/MAX Associates have earned their broker's license.
It was a classic case of improving your golf game by playing with better golfers. The RE/MAX approach had a profound impact on the industry, and today there are many imitators. But none has yet been able to match the level of professionalism held by RE/MAX agents.
Indeed, both consumers and others in the industry continue to perceive RE/MAX as the ultimate organization with which top real estate professionals affiliate. RE/MAX agents average 12 years of experience, far exceeding the industry average. They also surpass their peers in professional designations - a sign of advanced education in real estate sales and marketing.
Although RE/MAX growth in the early years wasn't exactly stellar, the company has grown every month since its founding. The concept that seemed so logical and powerful to Dave Liniger, was extremely threatening to the industry status quo. Concerted efforts were made to impede the company's growth. At the close of 1973, there were just 21 agents and eight offices. By 1976 there were 100 agents and by 1977, with 480 agents in the system, RE/MAX gained No. 1 market share in its headquarters city of Denver. That same year, the company expanded into Canada. In 1978, RE/MAX added its 100th office and 1,000th agent - and the hot air balloon became the company's official corporate logo. By 1980, the organization had 3,000 agents.
No. 1 in Canada
By 1984, there were 5,000 agents. In the following year, nearly 3,000 agents joined the system. By 1986, RE/MAX was at 1,000 offices and 10,000 agents. By 1987, there was just one larger real estate company in the United States. In 1988, RE/MAX became the largest real estate company in Canada; and there were 20,000 RE/MAX agents across North America.In 1990, RE/MAX agents closed 636,366 transactions, representing .96 billion in sales. The following year, RE/MAX expanded into the Caribbean, where today it's the region's largest real estate operation. In 1992, RE/MAX expanded into Mexico. In 1994, the RE/MAX Satellite Network was launched, broadcasting continuing education programming six hours a day to RE/MAX offices across North America. No other real estate company operates an equivalent system of advanced training.
Pioneering buyer representation
Also in 1994, RE/MAX endorsed the Accredited Buyer Representative professional designation, conferred by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council. The designation confirms an agent's expertise in the emerging field of buyer representation - yet another radical change to the status quo championed by RE/MAX. Today, out of the 3,510 agents with ABR designations, 1,983 are RE/MAX Associates. RE/MAX agents also dominate the ranks of Certified Relocation Professionals. That designation, conferred by the Employee Relocation Council, is considered one of the toughest designations to earn in residential real estate. It confirms an agent's experience and expertise in working with relocating corporate employees. Nearly 70 percent of all Certified Relocation Professionals are with RE/MAX.
In 1995, RE/MAX expanded into Southern Africa, Spain, Israel, Italy, Greece and Germany, and the 40,000-agent milestone was passed. In 1996, first Franchise Relations Award, based on superior support, training, and communications services was provided to franchisees. Expansion continued with offices opening in Central America and Australia - and by the end of the year RE/MAX had offices in 20 countries and spanned five continents. In February 1997, the network passed the 45,000-agent mark. In 1998 RE/MAX was recognized as the largest, most successful real estate organization in the world.
Many of the same questions, hesitations and strategies connected with seeking out professional assistance in any field — whether you're looking for a doctor, dentist, lawyer or accountant — come into play when you're selecting a real estate agent. Some people find an agent through a family member or friend. This is often a reliable approach. But you might not always find the most compatible assistance this way. And in a transaction as important and intensive as buying and selling a home, that can be critical.
A referral from a family member or friend doesn't guarantee a perfect match. Just think of something as simple as a movie or restaurant recommendation. Your close friends rave about a new Chinese food place downtown — so you check it out. Could this possibly be the same restaurant they were describing? Mediocre service. No chopsticks. Bland flavors. It's the same restaurant. Same cook. Same waiters. Just different perceptions.
Regardless of how you get an agent's name, it might be worth interviewing at least a couple before you make a final decision — or at least arming yourself with some criteria to go over with any agent who has been recommended to you.
A few things to look for:
- If you're looking for an agent to list your home, be wary of anyone who suggests they can get an unreasonably high sales price. An agent might use a high listing price to secure a contract, only to seek a lower price later, after little traffic is generated at the initial price level. Meanwhile, you've lost what can be the most critical time period in selling a home — the first weeks immediately after it's listed.
- Check on experience, education and productivity. As with most professions, experience pays in real estate. Experienced agents know the market and the marketing process. They'll have the best chance of quickly and smoothly helping you to buy or sell your home.
Designations — such as the Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI); Certified Residential Specialist (CRS); Certified Relocation Professional (CRP); Leadership Training Graduate (LTG); and, in Canada, the Registered Relocation Specialist (RRS) — suggest an expertise and commitment that goes beyond just earning and maintaining a real estate license.
The number of transactions an agent is handling monthly or yearly is going to give you an indication of how committed the agent is to the profession. Is the agent a part-timer who's just dabbling in real estate sales — or is the agent a full-time professional whose livelihood depends entirely on an ability to successfully and repeatedly close real estate transactions?
- If you're a buyer — does the agent offer buyer agency? More and more buyers are deciding they want full contractual representation on the same level as the seller. Be sure to discuss buyer agency with any agent you're thinking about working with.
- Does the agent know the market? Is the agent active in soliciting business in your neighborhood? Do you see the agent's yard signs around the neighborhood?
- Is the agent part of a national network? This can be especially important if you're selling in one city in preparation of moving to another. Your selling agent can refer you to a professional, compatible agent in your destination city — and keep in close contact with that agent so both your selling and buying efforts are closely coordinated.
- And a final point: Does the agent seem primarily interested in sharing expertise and market knowledge in an honest and straightforward manner? Or does the agent seem more interested in telling you what you want to hear — or spend a lot of effort trying to market additional products and services? The worst time to secure the services of a"yes-man"or an agent who seems to have a bit too many irons in the fire is when you're entering a transaction involving something as expensive as your home. You need straightforward, reliable information — even if it's not necessarily flattering regarding the home you're selling — or very encouraging regarding a home you think you might want to buy.
The Accredited Buyer Representative designation indicates a real estate agent specializing in representing buyers in the real estate transaction. The ABR is conferred by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council (REBAC).
The highest designation of commercial specialists is the CCIM, Certified Commercial Investment Member, conferred by the Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute of NAR.
The Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager designation, conferred by the Real Estate Brokerage Managers Council, identifies brokers who have taken an extensive array of courses oriented toward enhancement of brokerage management skills.
The Certified Relocation Professional certification is conferred by the Employee Relocation Council (E-R-C). The designation denotes relocation professionals who specialize in relocation and who pass the demanding requirements of E-R-C. RE/MAX has about 70 percent of all real estate CRPs in the United States.
The Certified Residential Specialist designation, offered through NAR, denotes an agent who specializes in residential real estate. Only about 3 percent of the members of NAR have earned this designation, while more than 16 percent of RE/MAX Associates have their CRS.
Only about 9 percent of all REALTORs® have earned the designation Graduate of the REALTOR® Institute. About 26 percent of RE/MAX Associates have completed this advanced course of study and earned their GRI.
The Leadership Training Graduate designation recognizes members of the Women's Council of REALTORs® who have achieved a superior level of leadership expertise through education and experience.
The Registered Relocation Specialist designation is the Canadian equivalent to the Certified Relocation Professional designation in the United States. An agent holding the RRS designation has proven experience in assisting corporate and government transferees in their destination and departure cities.
In addition to the professional designations described above, which are among the most frequently held designations in the industry, there are numerous other specialized designations held by RE/MAX Associates, including:
AACI - Accredited Appraiser Canadian Institute
ACCI - Associate Canadian Condominium Institute
ALC - Accredited Land Consultant
AMO - Accredited Management Organization
ARM - Accredited Resident Manager
CAPM - Certificate in Advanced Property Marketing
CBR - Certified Buyers Representative
CEA - Certificate of Estate Agency
CGA - Certified General Appraiser
CIPS - Certified International Property Specialist
CPM - Certified Property Manager
CRA - Canadian Residential Appraiser
CRE - Counselor in Real Estate
CREA - Certified Real Estate Appraiser
CRSS - Certified Real Estate Securities Sponsor
CSP - Certified Sales Professional
FRI - Fellow of the Real Estate Institute
FRICS - Fellow Royal Institute Chartered Surveyors
GAA - General Accredited Appraiser
MAI - Member of the Appraisal Institute
MVA - Market Value Appraiser
RI - Professional Division
RM - Residential Member
SIOR - Society of Industrial and Office REALTORs®
SRA - Senior Residential Appraiser
SREA - Senior Real Estate Analyst
SRS - Specialist in Real Estate Securities
A decade ago, environmental issues were rarely a part of the typical real estate transaction. Today, however, it's common for inspections relating to environmental concerns to be part of most sales contracts. In many states, seller disclosure regulations will reveal knowledge of certain toxic substances on a property. Typically, though, it's up to the buyer to pursue environmental inspections and tie any findings to the purchase offer.
Beyond Home Inspectors
Home inspectors who primarily focus on structural integrity and working systems might not be qualified to conduct specialized inspections for radon, asbestos and lead paint — substances that in recent years have emerged as the most common environmental concerns for home buyers. Testing for these substances typically requires a specialist who will charge a fee beyond the basic cost of a general home inspection.
As with any other inspection issue, the estimated expense of remedying a toxic substance situation may have already been factored into the home's listing price. Other times, the outcome of an inspection might become a negotiating point.
A Few Quick Facts on Radon
- Radon is a tasteless, odorless gas.
- It is a proven carcinogen and ranks second only to cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer.
- If you have a radon problem, it is usually easy and inexpensive to abate.
- There are a number of radon sampling devices that you can buy, or you can have a professional company conduct tests.
- Radon is measured in pico Curies per liter (pCi/L). The EPA recommends that remedial action be taken when a residence exceeds a radon level of four pCi/L.
- Many older homes have asbestos insulation in walls and ceilings, wrapped around hot water pipes or in exterior shingles.
- Is it dangerous?
If you suspect there may be asbestos in your home, you should have a professional inspection. Generally, asbestos is considered a health hazard when the material is friable, that is, when it crumbles, releasing tiny fibers into the air.
- Removal of asbestos can be an expensive process and must be conducted by trained and certified professionals. But the presence of asbestos may not be a health hazard, and in some cases, an asbestos hazard can be isolated without removal.
Approximately three-quarters of the housing in the United States built before 1978 (about 64 million dwellings) contain lead-based paint. When properly maintained and managed, this paint possesses little risk. However, 1.7 million children have blood-lead levels above safe limits, mostly due to exposure to lead-based paint hazards at home.
- Affects Brain —
Lead poisoning can cause permanent damage to the brain and create reduced intelligence and behavioral problems. Lead also can damage other organs and can cause abnormal fetal development in pregnant women. People can get lead in their bodies by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips with lead in them.
- Often Found in Pre-1978 Housing —
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction ACT of 1992 directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure people receive information needed to protect themselves from lead-based paint hazards.
- New Rule this Fall —
Most home buyers and renters must receive information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards when they buy or rent housing built before 1978. Some housing, such as efficiency apartments, dormitories, vacation rentals, adult housing and foreclosure sales are not covered. Under the rule, sellers, landlords, and their agents will be responsible for providing information to buyers or renters before a sale or lease. Home buyers will have 10 days to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at their own expense. The rule gives the two parties flexibility to negotiate key terms of the evaluation. The new rule does not require any testing or removal of lead-based paint by sellers or landlords and does not invalidate leasing and sales contracts.
- Pamphlet Available — For a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, sample disclosure forms, or the rule itself, call the National Lead Information Clearinghouse (NLIC) at (800) 424-5323, or TDD (800) 526-5456 for the hearing impaired. You may also send your request by fax to (202) 659-1192 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The EPA pamphlet and rule also are available electronically and may be accessed through the Internet.
There are Two Reasons For Pursuing Major Home Improvement Projects:
- Just Want To Do It — You want some new features in a home to improve your family's quality of life, but you don't want to leave your current home.
- Really Need To Do It — You want to make your home more marketable to maximize return (or minimize loss) and speed up the sale process.
In the right market conditions, a project might fit into both categories. Other times, though, the two approaches will conflict:
Just Want To Do It — In situation A, the project is perceived as a necessary or worthwhile improvement to your family's lifestyle. Say you have two or three teenagers in the family and the morning bathroom situation is completely out of control. It doesn't matter if an additional bath generates a 150 percent return on investment or actually decreases the value of the home (unlikely, unless you're a completely incompetent do-it-yourselfer with a bizarre design sense). The economic impact just doesn't matter. If you have the money for a new bath and you don't want to move — you add the bath. It's that simple.
Or say you're a barbecue fiend and the only feature missing from the dream home you've just purchased is a sprawling backyard patio with a natural-gas grill custom-built with flagstone and river rock. Again, return on investment just isn't going to be a critical question. The improvement becomes more comparable to purchasing a depreciating asset that you feel is a necessity for your lifestyle — such as an automobile. When the barbecue aficionado adds a deluxe patio to a home that's already the most expensive property in the neighborhood — perhaps destroying the entire backyard in the process — there's a good chance that very little of the cost will be recouped in a subsequent sale.
An even better example might be a pool. If you're a person who simply has to have one — fine. Put in a pool. But it's probably worth checking with a real estate professional first, just to make sure you fully understand that adding the pool might actually lessen the property's value and make it more difficult to sell should you later decide to move. That's the reality in many markets. That doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't do it, especially if you're planning to live in the home for the rest of your life. It just means it's worth knowing the cost and salability impacts at the front end — even if they're not going to deter you from pursuing the project.
Really Need To Do It — The"type-B"home improvement project is pursued primarily to increase the property's salability. In turn, this often increases your return on investment. A good real estate agent can advise you of possible improvements that will attract more potential buyers and also pay for themselves either through increasing the home's value or through shortening the time it takes to sell the home.
Here we're typically talking about projects such as: painting — either because the existing paint is in bad shape or is an unusual color; replacing carpets — again because of age, color or style; repairing or resurfacing a cracked driveway or sidewalk; refacing kitchen cabinets; and trimming or removing overgrown or unattractive landscaping.
While spending several thousand dollars on your home right before you sell it might not sound very appealing, it's not uncommon for the right work to more than pay for itself in a higher selling price and shorter marketing time.
Consult with an experienced real estate agent to learn what improvements will make your home more marketable in comparison to similar properties that are now — or recently have been — on the market in your area.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selling a home is listing it at the correct price. It's one of several areas where the assistance of a skilled real estate agent can more than pay for itself.
Too High Can Be As Bad As Too Low
If the listing price is too high, you'll miss out on a percentage of buyers looking in the price range where your home should be. This is the flaw in thinking that you'll always have the opportunity to accept a lower offer. Chances are the offers won't even come in, because the buyers who would be most interested in your home have been scared off by the price and aren't even taking the time to look. By the time the price is corrected, you've already lost exposure to a large group of potential buyers.
The listing price becomes even trickier to set when prices are quickly rising or falling. It's critical to be aware of where and how fast the market is moving — both when setting the price and when negotiating an offer. Again, an experienced, well-trained agent is always in touch with market trends — often even to a greater extent than appraisers, who typically focus on what a property is worth if sold as-is, right now.
Agent Education, Experience Critical
When working with a real estate agent, it's critical that you have full confidence in that agent's experience and education. A skilled, knowledgeable agent should be able to explain to you exactly why your home needs to be priced at a certain level — compared to recent listings and sales of homes similar to yours.
Experienced agents also know exactly what the current pool of buyers are looking for in relation to particular styles and price ranges of properties. A skilled agent can recommend changes that will enhance the salability of your home, thus increasing the price — and/or decreasing the length of time before a sale.
Little Touches Can Generate Big Returns
Some of these changes may be cosmetic, involving literally no expense on your part. It might be as simple as moving out some of your furniture and adjusting window coverings to best display desirable qualities of the home. Other changes might demand an investment, but the cost will likely more than pay for itself in the final sales price or timeliness of the sale.
It's critical to keep all these aspects of pricing in mind, regardless of whom you choose to list your home.
When RE/MAX International became the official real estate sponsor for Children's Miracle Network in January 1992 we had two objectives. The first was to affiliate ourselves with a national charity distinguished for improving health care for children. The second was to make the world a better place for the people we serve. Astronaut Christa McAuliffe once said,"I touch the future, I teach."We view our affiliation with Children's Miracle Network similarly: We touch the future, we serve. The health of business is a reflection of the health of our society. We are committed to contributing to the health of today's child.
What is Children's Miracle Network ?
Children's Miracle Network is a non-profit organization founded in 1983. Its mission is to generate funds and awareness programs for children and associated hospitals. CMN began as an effort to produce a high quality national television special to raise money for hospitalized children.
RE/MAX and CMN
RE/MAX has a proven blueprint for success. One of the components of that blueprint is the involvement of Associates within their communities. We know and understand that community involvement contributes to increased success for our Associates. We call it Premier Community Citizenship.
Children's Miracle Network is an international organization wherein 100% of the funds raised stay within their communities. Likewise, RE/MAX is an international business where success depends upon the sum of many local successes. Our mutual involvement on a local level builds a natural affinity for our business interests. As a corporate sponsor ofCMN we enhance our role as local community citizens and as members of the global community. While improving the health of our society, we touch the local RE/MAX Associate and his/her community.
CMN is more than a fund-raiser.
- It is a network of 165 hospitals, selected because of their commitment and excellence in treating children.
- It is a network of sponsors who work to raise funds through hundreds of special events in local communities.
- It is a professional fund-raising organization expert in marketing benefits to corporations that want to give back to the community while they market their goods and services.
These qualities fulfill a unique need in today's marketplace. It is this innovative quality which led to the RE/MAX Affiliation with CMN. At RE/MAX we believe that doing good is good business.