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What Does A Real Estate Agent Do?

Kevin Payne4-Minute Read
October 19, 2021

Real estate agents play an essential role in home buying and selling. According to a 2019 National Association of REALTORS® report, 89% of buyers went through a real estate agent or broker to purchase their house. But what exactly is their role in the buying and selling of a home or property? It’s important to understand their role in those processes, as well as their legal obligations. Here’s a quick guide to what real estate agents do.

What Is A Real Estate Agent?

Real estate agents are licensed professionals who organize real estate transactions between buyers and sellers. Agents who represent sellers are also called listing agents. Buyer’s agents are exactly what it sounds like – real estate agents who represent buyers.

Real estate agents can be both listing agents and buyer’s agents, but typically not for the same real estate transaction. Real estate agents walk their clients through the entire home buying or selling process, providing valuable knowledge and information at each step.

Real estate agents are typically compensated by commission, which is a percentage of a property’s purchase price, otherwise known as REALTOR® fees.

What Real Estate Agents Do

Real estate agents act in the best interest of their clients, whether they are a listing agent or a buyer’s agent. Both act as a liaison between the parties, including during offers and counteroffers. They’re available to answer any questions that may arise during the process. Real estate agents on both sides also:

  • Walk their client through any necessary paperwork
  • Communicate with their client and other parties involved
  • Provide information on the inspection process
  • Continue to support their client through the closing process

While both types of agent are involved, each one provides different services to their client. One thing to keep in mind is that all real estate agents should be:

  • Familiar with the local housing market, including pricing
  • Knowledgeable on local and state real estate laws
  • Understanding of their clients’ needs

Here’s a look at what real estate agents do on both sides of a real estate transaction.

What Real Estate Agents Do For Sellers

Homeowners looking to sell their homes turn to listing agents. Listing agents provide clients with an unbiased valuation of their home and help set a listing price. Real estate agents are in tune with the market, so they also make suggestions for home updates that will lead to a successful home sale.

Listing agents also handle marketing a home listing. This includes entering the home into the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. Marketing is also done through networking with other real estate agents, creating advertisements, setting up open houses, and other methods.

It’s vital for listing agents to vet buyers, too. Not everyone is a serious buyer. Listing agents often check on potential buyer’s finances before arranging a showing or accepting an offer. Listing agents know the right questions to ask to find out if a buyer can afford to buy the home or not.

Listing agents also negotiate various aspects of a home sale on behalf of their client. They may negotiate the price of the home or smaller expenses like closing costs, home warranties, and any fees. There are legal actions that occur during the process of selling a home that fall on a real estate agent too. Their job includes preparing, submitting, and filing any documents, like contracts and agreements.

What Real Estate Agents Do For Buyers

Buyer’s agents search for local properties that match their client’s requirements and price range. This involves searching online but also scouting houses in person. They also set up showings, inform clients on the local area and housing market.

It’s also important for real estate agents to make sure clients are preapproved for a mortgage. Being preapproved shows your agent, the homeowners and their agents that you’re serious about buying a house.

Once you’ve found a house you’re interested in, real estate agents help submit bids and negotiate on your behalf throughout the buying process.

Real estate agents also help set up home appraisals and inspections. Often, they have existing relationships with reputable people in the industry who provide those services.

There’s a lot of paperwork that occurs during the home buying process. It’s a real estate agent's job to guide you through all of the contracts, agreements, and other documents necessary when buying a home. They also are the ones who submit paperwork on your behalf.

From first contact to closing, your real estate agent is your connection to all parties involved when buying a house.

What Role Do Agents Play At Closing?

Real estate agents also play a role during the closing period. Throughout the process, agents communicate between their client and the other party. Communication continues during closing as well. They may suggest a final walkthrough of the home close to the closing date. This allows you to check for any damage that has occurred since the initial contract.

Real estate agents also look over every document, ensuring accuracy and that all terms and conditions have been met before the home deed is transferred. Mistakes happen, and it's an agent’s job to find and correct them before everything is finalized.

Agents also represent you at any meetings or contract signings. Several different parties can be involved in the closing process, depending on which state you’re in, including lawyers, a title or escrow agent, a mortgage lender, sellers and buyers, and real estate agents. Agents represent their client’s best interest until the sale is final.

What Happens If You Don’t Have An Agent?

If you are buying or selling a house yourself, all of the real estate agent duties mentioned earlier become your responsibility. If you are selling your home, you’re in charge of listing your home, marketing it, setting up showings and open houses, providing necessary paperwork, negotiating price, and working with the other party’s real estate agent.

If you’re buying, you have your hands full, too. You’ll submit bids, negotiate pricing, line up inspections, and handle all of the legal tasks associated with buying a home. It’s a lot to oversee, especially if you don’t have experience or knowledge of real estate transactions. It’s not impossible to represent yourself, whether you’re a buyer or seller, but it’s a considerable time and energy commitment.

Your best bet may be to find a quality real estate agent to help you buy a home or sell your home.

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Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a personal finance and travel writer who writes about family finances, banking, credit cards, and loans. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four kids.