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By Brianna Henson

Who are Real Estate agents? What do they do, and what does it take to become one?

Real estate agents are the ‘middlemen' that make property transactions easier as they scout, sell, buy and rent properties on behalf of their clients. The property industry has many shareholders, such as banks, solicitors, surveyors, building societies, mortgage brokers and competitor agencies, among others. It is the work of a real estate agent to liaise with all of these entities.

Types of real estate agency

Buyer agency whereby an agent, being a representative of a buyer, works to get the best deal for the buyer and is required to be honest with the seller and to supply all facts prior to an agreement.

Seller agency is similar to buyer agency except the agent represents the seller.

Dual agency is where a realtor acts in the interest of both the buyer and seller. The agent must maintain confidentiality for each party, making it hard for the realtor to give sufficient advice to either party.

Designated agency is where the same brokerage firm represents the buyer and seller, but they are assigned different realtors who owe them confidentiality and do nothing to undermine the transaction.

Activities involved

  • Advertising and promoting properties
  • Gather information about properties and clients and match suitable properties to clients; Agents also advise clients and help them identify what works well for them
  • Visiting properties and their sellers to understand the selling points
  • Monitoring all sales and working with all the involved parties to ensure the sales sail through without hitches
  • Negotiation of terms and conditions with potential buyers and sellers
  • Work with appraisers to establish the worth of properties
  • Checking properties' documents and certificates to ensure legal, safety and health requirements are met
  • Vetting of potential tenants prior to signing of leases
  • Manage properties, prepare agreement contracts and collect payments like rent, deposits or repair funds
  • Stay updated with what is happening with residential and commercial properties in their areas of operation and throughout the country in general

What skills and education do real estate agents require?

One must be at least 18 years old and pass a state provided real estate exam to get a license. Exams differ slightly from state to state. Diplomas or degrees in business, property management, sales and marketing and/or finance will give you an upper hand in this trade. Agents must work under real estate brokers, so if you need to venture out on your own, you will need to get more education and experience and pass the broker's exam.

This field needs a person who can build and sustain relationships and is good at networking, persuading, negotiating and problem solving. Time management is imperative, as there are plenty of meetings and paperwork.

How to Work with a Real Estate Agent from a Long Distance

If you are planning on moving to a city a long distance away, you need to make sure you have a good real estate agent in that city who you can work with. For many people, it is difficult to do this type of business from such a great distance. Both you and the real estate agent will need to put in a little extra effort to make sure problems are avoided and you can get the home you really want. The following tips will help you to build a successful long distance relationship with your real estate agent.

Establish Preferred Communication Methods

One of the biggest frustrations people have when working with someone over a long distance is not being able to get in touch with the other party. Before hiring a real estate agent, make sure you both have a clear understanding of how you will communicate, and how quickly you expect a response. If you prefer to talk on the phone, make that clear. You'll also want to keep any differences related to time zones in mind when estimating how soon you will get a call back.

Be Very Clear

Real estate agents cannot read your mind or know exactly what you want when you are being vague. You should provide them a list of exactly what you're looking for in a home. This list can include what types of things are requirements, and which ones are items you would like to have. In addition, list items that would be deal breakers for a home. This could be something like living on a busy street or a corner lot. Buying a home is a huge investment, so if you're not going to be close by at all times, you need to have very clear communication.

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