Today, real estate searches typically begin online. With an abundance of information available as to listed homes for sale, it is very easy to have a self-directed search without the help of a Realtor. Sites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com show available properties, what has sold, provide neighborhood info, and even go so far as to value a home without ever seeing it!
With all of this information readily available, how does a real estate professional come into the picture?
First, it’s important to understand some terms used for real estate professionals. When you hire someone to represent you in a real estate transaction, or act as your agent, he or she must be properly licensed by the state – in Illinois, that is a licensed real estate broker or managing broker. This means the broker has gone through an initial requirement of education, and has met all continuing education requirements needed for the bi-annual renewals of licenses.
Wondering if your agent is licensed? You can check on anyone’s license status on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website.
Often, and especially in the residential home sale industry, that real estate broker is also a Realtor. This designation means the broker has chosen to become a member of the National Association of Realtors, and not only will they adhere to the statutory rules regulation their license, but adhere to the Code of Ethics set forth by the NAR. This membership is typically required to become a member of the local real estate board, which is basically how real estate brokers are able to operate in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
The MLS is the Realtor’s ticket to all the data and information necessary to perform their job.
It goes far beyond simple home listings. They have access to all transaction data for properties, compiled from the MLS, recorders and taxing authorities, in addition to tools that give real-time snapshots of market movement in different areas. By leveraging this information, a Realtor is able to provide extensive insight on a property, and give you all the necessary tools for making a decision. But it’s not just the MLS that you get.
When hiring a Realtor, or a broker, you are getting market and transaction expertise.
That means someone who is experienced in negotiating, understands a real estate contract, and knows all the steps needed in order to get your property closed. And a good Realtor or broker is going to manage that entire process for you. You basically are the Chairman or Chairwoman of the purchase, bringing on a Realtor to act as CEO; he or she brings together all the parties of a transaction in order to achieve your said goal.
So to answer the question – no, you don’t actually need a broker or Realtor. However, when you find the right Realtor to work with, you will be thankful you do have them. Be sure to read our steps on how to find the right Realtor.