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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In Our Internet-Connected Marketplace, What’s the Role of Realtors Now?

[Published Aug. 20, 2015, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 There are two countervailing trends in real estate today. On the one hand, buyers have nearly full access to the universe of homes for sale, including homes listed on “for sale by owner” websites and “make me move” listings on Zillow.

On the other hand, the buying and selling process gets more complicated every year and the mortgage financing process is ridiculously more complicated!

With these two trends at work, the role of the licensed real estate professional has evolved from being the source of listing information to a “navigator” — a professional knowledgeable in the complexities of each stage of the buying and selling process.

Believe me, you do not want to navigate these waters alone, either as a seller or a buyer!

We Realtors (the 50% of licensed agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors) find our role changing from that of selling to consulting and advising.  Personally, I like the term “navigator” for that new role.

A navigator helps you get from point A to point B without running aground. There could not be a better description of our roles in helping you through the home buying and selling process.

If you Google “real estate flow chart” as I did in writing this week’s column, you’ll find charts that don’t fit readably on this page because of how many components there are.  I urge all would-be sellers in particular to study those charts and realize that point B is not getting under contract with a buyer.  Point B is way beyond that!  You’ll need a navigator — preferably a Realtor — to assist in negotiating among multiple buyers, handling inspection objections and appraisal issues.

(I don’t recommend working with a non-Realtor for the simple reason that if they can’t afford or don’t want to join their national and local trade association, they may not have the experience you need.  Would a ship’s captain want a navigator with little or no experience?)

A good navigator looks at the entire journey ahead of time, not mile-by-mile.  In the case of real estate, how the contract to buy and sell is written can help avoid problems later on with such issues as inspection and appraisal. In this multiple-offer environment, we can negotiate back-up contracts and not just primary contracts, so that the seller is in a strong negotiating position as the transaction proceeds.

For buyers, the need for “navigation” is just as important. Again, getting your dream home under contract  is not “point B.”  Your real point B is the closing, and you’ll need guidance from a good navigator through that month-long (or longer) process of getting to closing. The shoals include inspection, HOA docs, title work, appraisal, loan approval and more. You'll be glad you had a navigator!


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