Real Estate Terms

Real Estate Agent: Expert Tips for Buying and Selling Homes

As a real estate exam teacher, I often come across individuals interested in becoming real estate agents. This rewarding profession is all about connecting buyers and sellers, helping them navigate the complex world of property transactions. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the role of real estate agents and the skills necessary to thrive in this industry.

Real estate agents play a crucial role in property transactions, acting as intermediaries between buyers and sellers. They use their knowledge of the local market and up-to-date property listings to find suitable properties that match their clients’ specific needs. Additionally, they handle negotiations, paperwork, and ensure a seamless transaction process. It’s important to note that these professionals are often required to obtain a license to practice, which involves passing a state-administered real estate exam.

Being a successful real estate agent requires a diverse skillset, including strong communication, negotiation, and problem-solving abilities. Agents must also be knowledgeable about local property laws and market trends. Furthermore, they need to effectively network, build relationships with other industry professionals, and maintain a positive reputation in their community. This way, they can grow their client base and achieve greater levels of success.

Real Estate Agent vs Realtor

As a real estate exam teacher, I often clarify the differences between real estate agents and Realtors. It’s crucial to understand these distinctions, particularly as you prepare for your real estate exams in 2023.

Real Estate Broker

First, let me discuss the role of a real estate broker. A real estate broker is a professional with a broker’s license, which allows them to manage their own real estate business or work under the supervision of a managing broker. Real estate agents, on the other hand, are licensed professionals who work with brokers to help clients buy, sell, or rent residential and commercial properties.

In most cases, my students are primarily interested in the differences between real estate agents and Realtors. While all Realtors are real estate agents, not all real estate agents are Realtors.

National Association of Realtors (NAR)

The main difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor lies in their membership with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) . Realtors are active and paying members of the NAR, while real estate agents may or may not choose to join.

As a member of the NAR, Realtors must adhere to the organization’s Code of Ethics, which consists of 17 articles outlining the proper conduct for professionals in the real estate industry. This code ensures that Realtors maintain a high standard of professionalism, integrity, and ethical conduct.

In summary, the distinction between real estate agents and Realtors comes down to membership in the NAR and a commitment to their Code of Ethics. Understanding the differences between these professionals can help you navigate the real estate industry with confidence and make informed decisions.

Roles and Responsibilities

As a real estate agent, my primary responsibility is to help clients buy, sell, and invest in real estate. To fulfill these responsibilities, I wear different hats depending on the situation. In this section, I’ll discuss the roles I play as a Listing Agent, Buyer’s Agent, and in Dual Agency situations.

Listing Agent

When representing a seller, I act as a Listing Agent. In this role, my duties include:

  • Assessing the property to determine its value
  • Advising clients on how to best present their property to the market
  • Marketing the property through various channels, including MLS
  • Conducting open houses and private showings
  • Communicating with potential buyers and their agents
  • Reviewing and negotiating offers
  • Coordinating the closing process

During this process, my goal is to ensure my client’s property sells quickly and for the highest possible price.

Buyer’s Agent

As a Buyer’s Agent, I assist clients looking to purchase a home. In this capacity, my responsibilities include:

  • Understanding the needs and preferences of my clients
  • Searching for suitable properties in the desired area
  • Scheduling and attending property showings
  • Analyzing comparable sales to determine a fair offer price
  • Drafting and submitting offers
  • Assisting with financing options, if required
  • Coordinating inspections, appraisals, and other necessary steps during the home buying process

Throughout the home buying journey, I aim to help my clients find the perfect property at the right price and guide them through a smooth transaction.

Dual Agency

In some cases, I may represent both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction. This situation, known as Dual Agency, requires careful navigation to ensure fairness for both parties. When acting as a Dual Agent, my duties include:

  • Disclosing the dual agency status to both parties
  • Ensuring confidentiality of each party’s information
  • Communicating offers and counter-offers between buyer and seller
  • Assisting with paperwork, inspections, and appraisals for both parties
  • Facilitating a fair and efficient closing process

In a Dual Agency situation, my goal is to maintain a neutral stance and provide necessary assistance without favoring one side or the other.

In conclusion, my job as a real estate agent involves wearing several hats and fulfilling various responsibilities. Whether I’m helping clients buy, sell, or both, it’s vital to maintain a clear, knowledgeable approach and provide the best possible service to achieve successful outcomes.

Selecting a Real Estate Agent

Referrals and Online Reviews

In my quest for the perfect real estate agent, the first step I always take is seeking referrals from friends, family, and colleagues. They can provide me with their firsthand experiences and recommendations. Along with that, I also explore online reviews to get a broader understanding of an agent’s reputation and track record. Comparing real estate agents online is a valuable resource in this process.

Language Skills

As a real estate exam teacher, I understand the importance of clear communication. Therefore, I look for agents who are fluent in the languages my clients and I speak, such as English and French. That way, all parties involved can understand negotiations, contracts, and other relevant discussions without any language barriers or misunderstandings.

Local Expertise

For me, a key factor in finding the right real estate agent is their knowledge of the local housing market and neighborhood trends. I prefer working with a local realtor who has a deep understanding of the community and market conditions. This local expertise ensures they can provide valuable insights and guidance to clients looking to buy or sell properties in specific neighborhoods.

In conclusion, selecting a real estate agent involves evaluating referrals and online reviews, assessing their language skills, and considering their local market expertise. These factors contribute to a successful real estate transaction and foster a smooth, positive experience for both buyers and sellers.

Major Real Estate Agencies


As a real estate exam teacher, I always ensure my students are familiar with some of the largest real estate companies in the market. One of these is RE/MAX, a prominent agency in the industry. Founded in 1973, the company has established a strong reputation and a wide range of services for clients.

Their offices can be found in various locations, both domestically and internationally. RE/MAX agents are known for their expertise, and the company’s website offers a user-friendly experience for those looking to buy, sell, or rent properties.


Another significant player in the real estate market is Compass. Launched in 2012, the company has rapidly grown into a robust platform leveraging technology to streamline the buying and selling process.

Compass offices can be found in major cities across the United States. Their website offers a cutting-edge search interface, making it easier for clients to find suitable properties. With their tech-driven approach, Compass aims to redefine the real estate industry.

Century 21

Century 21 is one of the most well-known real estate brands around the market. Founded in 1971, they have expanded their presence globally, providing various services, including residential and commercial real estate, property management, and mortgage assistance.

Their offices often have knowledgeable agents who are well-versed in the real estate market. Century 21’s website is user-friendly, offering search tools for clients to find their dream property.

Keller Williams

Keller Williams is another top real estate agency, with a strong focus on agent education and development. Established in 1983, the company has grown to become one of the largest real estate franchises globally, with a presence in several countries.

Their offices boast well-trained agents ready to guide clients through the buying and selling process. The Keller Williams website provides extensive search functionality, allowing clients to find properties based on their specific requirements.

Commission and Fees

Discount Real Estate Brokers

As a real estate exam teacher, I want to share some information about commissions and fees in the industry. When selling or buying a property, one significant expense is the real estate agent’s commission. The typical real estate agent commission is between 5% to 6% of the home sale price. For example, on a $350,000 home sale, this would amount to $17,500 to $21,000 in fees. These commissions are typically split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent, with each receiving around 2.5%-3% of the sale price.

When looking to save on commission fees, I recommend considering discount real estate brokers. These brokers offer a reduced commission rate while providing the same essential services as traditional agents. By working with a discount broker, clients can save thousands of dollars on their transaction. It is important to remember, however, that the level of service might vary between brokers, so it’s essential to research and choose a reputable professional before working with a discount broker.

Traditional BrokerDiscount Broker
5-6% commissionLower commission rate
Full serviceVaries by broker

To help make it easier to read and understand, here’s a summary of key information:

  • Typical real estate agent commission: 5-6% of the home sale price
  • Commission split between listing and buyer’s agents: 2.5%-3%
  • Discount brokers offer reduced commission rates
  • Research and choose a reputable discount broker to ensure quality service

In my experience as a real estate exam teacher, understanding the value of working with different types of brokers and how commissions work is essential to success in the industry. By educating yourself on these topics, you can make informed decisions and better serve your clients in the competitive real estate market.

Working with Real Estate Professionals


As a real estate exam teacher, I cannot stress enough the importance of working with reliable home inspectors. In my experience, hiring a skilled inspector to assess a property’s condition can prevent potential risks and pitfalls for both buyers and sellers. They perform a thorough examination of the property, assessing aspects like structural integrity, plumbing, and electrical systems. When I work with an inspector, I make sure they adhere to the Code of Ethics to ensure they provide honest and accurate information.

Home inspections typically include:

  • Examining the property’s structural components
  • Checking the roof, ventilation, and insulation
  • Inspecting plumbing and electrical systems
  • Identifying potential health and safety hazards


In addition to inspectors, I often collaborate with contractors to help my clients make informed decisions. Contractors are essential for making necessary repairs or improvements to properties. They can provide quotes on the cost of repairs, offer guidance on property renovations or modifications, and ensure that projects are completed both on time and within the client’s budget.

When choosing a contractor, I follow these guidelines:

  1. Verify their license and qualifications
  2. Check for a valid insurance policy
  3. Research their work history and previous client reviews
  4. Obtain multiple quotes from different contractors

Being mindful of these factors helps me select the right contractor for my clients, ensuring their satisfaction and success in their real estate endeavors. My main goal is to support my clients by making certain they are collaborating with trustworthy and skilled professionals, giving them the best chance at achieving their real estate goals.

Useful Real Estate Terms

As a real estate exam teacher, it’s important for me to familiarize students with some key terms that they will encounter during their real estate careers. Here are a few essential terms that you should be aware of, and if you want the full list, check out my dictionary of real estate terms:

  • Customer service: In the real estate industry, providing excellent customer service is crucial for building trust and maintaining positive relationships with clients. This includes being attentive, responsive, and helpful throughout the entire home buying or selling process.
  • Real estate license: A real estate license is required for individuals to legally practice real estate in a specific state. The process typically involves completing pre-licensing education, passing a state-administered exam, and obtaining a license from the state’s real estate regulatory body.
  • NAR: The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is the largest trade association in the United States representing real estate professionals. As a member, I adhere to a strict code of ethics and have access to various resources, educational opportunities, and professional networking events.
  • Pending: A property is considered “pending” when an offer has been accepted, but the sale has not yet closed. During this time, various contingencies may still need to be met, such as inspections, appraisals, and financing.
  • Negotiations: In real estate transactions, negotiations involve various parties, such as the buyer, seller, and their respective agents, working together to agree on the terms and conditions of the sale. Some common negotiation points include price, closing date, and contingencies.
  • Activity range: The activity range represents the spectrum of market conditions, from a buyer’s market with many homes for sale and few buyers, to a seller’s market with few homes for sale and many buyers. Understanding the current activity range can help determine pricing strategies and negotiation tactics.
  • Owned: In real estate, “owned” refers to a property that is held in full by its owner, without any outstanding loans or liens from lending institutions.
  • Listed a house: When a property owner decides to sell their home, they often work with a real estate agent to list the house on the market. This involves advertising the property and scheduling showings for potential buyers.

By familiarizing yourself with these terms and concepts, you’ll be better prepared for the real estate exam and your future career in the industry.

Exploring Real Estate Markets


Lancaster is an up-and-coming market for both new and experienced real estate agents. As an agent specializing in this market, I have noticed a growing interest in residential properties, especially off-market properties that offer attractive deals for investors. Lancaster’s suburban charm and proximity to major cities make it an appealing choice for families and professionals alike. In my experience, when working with clients in this area, I prioritize finding homes that cater to their unique needs and preferences.

Buffalo, NY

Buffalo is another market that I have found to be full of opportunities for real estate professionals. Working with leading firms like Hunt Real Estate ERA has allowed me to gain valuable insights into the city’s housing landscape. Buffalo’s diverse neighborhoods offer a wide range of property types for buyers and sellers, making it an exciting market for real estate agents like me. In my work, I have been able to identify key trends and areas of demand, such as:

  • Affordable single-family homes
  • Investment opportunities in multi-family properties
  • Off-market properties that can yield significant returns

Buffalo’s resilience and growth in recent years have made it an ideal destination for real estate investment, and I am continually discovering new opportunities for clients in this thriving market. As a real estate exam teacher, I emphasize the importance of understanding local market dynamics and staying informed about trends and opportunities to succeed as a real estate agent in any market, including Lancaster and Buffalo.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a real estate exam teacher, many of my students often ask questions about the real estate industry and the role of real estate agents. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.

1. How do real estate agents get paid?

Real estate agents typically earn a commission on the sale of a property. The standard commission rate is around 6% of the sale price, which is split among the listing agent, listing broker, buyer agent, and buyer broker. For example, if a home costs $200,000, the total commission cost would be $12,000. It’s important to note that commission rates might vary depending on the agent and other factors.

2. What is the best way to communicate with my real estate agent?

The best way to ensure effective communication with your real estate agent is to ask about their preferred communication method and availability. Most agents provide their clients with phone numbers for urgent questions and can be reached during the day and evening. However, it’s essential to respect their personal time when it comes to non-urgent matters.

3. How long does it take to buy or sell a home?

The time it takes to buy or sell a home depends on various factors, such as the local market, the condition of the property, and the buyer’s financial situation. In general, the process might take a few weeks or several months. It’s crucial for both buyers and sellers to be patient and prepared for any delays.

4. How can I find a good real estate agent?

To find a great real estate agent, it’s important to research, interview potential candidates, and ask for recommendations from friends or family members. Some questions to ask during the interview process include their experience, success rate, and marketing strategies.

All in all, educating yourself on the real estate industry and the role of real estate agents is essential in making informed decisions. By understanding the answers to these frequently asked questions, my students are better prepared for their exams and future real estate transactions.

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