Definition of "Real estate agent"

Alton James real estate agent
Alton James, Real Estate Agent Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

If you’re looking for the real estate agent definition, you’re in the right place. So, in the following paragraphs, we will try to examine the complex job of a real estate professional with a fine-tooth comb. When you reach the last line, you’ll have a complete picture of what real estate agent means. In broad lines, a real estate agent is a person specialized in assisting home buyers, home sellers and renters, walking them every step of the buying, selling and renting process. But this definition of real estate agent is way too simplified, so keep reading to find out what a real estate agent does for his/her principals. But before we dive deeper into the real estate agent definition, a little bit of history won’t hurt. 

History of real estate agents

Real estate agents are quite new to the job market. This occupation is only a little over a century old. At the beginning of the XXth century, real estate agents used to place more plates in front of a house for sale and let the homeowner pick one. This profession was very little regulated at that time, but everyone was in favor of a unitary practice. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) was founded in 1908. That was a turning point in the history of real estate agents. Since then, the term REALTOR® has borrowed the definition of real estate agent and to this day, the two terms have been used interchangeably. However, not all REALTORS® are real estate agents, since among the members of the NAR are many real estate professionals who tackle different aspects of the home selling process, such as appraisers, property managers, and lenders. The profession has survived The Great Depression and the number of agents grew considerably in the post-World War II America. The benefits of the real estate career had been quickly acknowledged by women who embraced this job in good numbers. This job allowed them to work flexible hours, provided good earning potential and almost no barriers to entry. Even in 2018, 67% of all REALTORS® were female.     

The Internet has had a key role in the history of real estate agents, as well. The NAR started to control the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) in every state and many real estate agents who wanted to gain access to listings had to join the National Association of REALTORS®. The MLS allows agents to collaborate on selling each other’s inventory. And so far, this platform has been working smoothly. 

If the history of real estate agents is so fascinating, their future is equally promising. 

The importance of a real estate agent

Prior to entering the profession, real estate agents undergo training and education. In order to receive their real estate license, they have to pass the real estate exam in their state. Moreover, REALTORS® also abide by a very strict Code of Ethics. 

The low number of For Sale By Owner transactions - which was only 7% of all home sales in 2018 - suggests that home sellers seem to trust real estate professionals more than ever before. They rely on their assistance and the main reason why they do so is that real estate agents are able to fight for their best interest and in most cases, home sellers received more than the asking price. Buyers and renters should also find a real estate agent before looking for the perfect place to live. There are so many aspects involved that, without an advisor by their side, many questions may remain without an answer. 

What does a real estate agent do for a buyer?

With so many listing websites and mobile apps that allow home buyers to search for a home themselves, the question of whether a buyer’s agent is still necessary or not demands an honest answer. In short, yes, all buyers should hire an agent to cover their back. Don’t underestimate what a real estate agent does for a buyer!

There are at least three categories of buyers who may benefit from hiring an agent: first-time homebuyers, out-of-state buyers and seniors with no Internet literacy. 

So, what does a real estate agent do for a buyer, exactly?

  • Outlines the current market conditions, whether it’s a buyer’s market or not
  • Explains the whole buying process and what to expect
  • Looks for the properties that are affordable for the buyer and meet their needs and wants
  • Helps buyers filter their top picks, giving them details they can’t find anywhere else such as the time on the market or how many times the property fell out of escrow
  • Finds creative ways to achieve the buyer’s desired lifestyle in spite of financial constraints
  • Gets involved in negotiations 
  • Places reasonable offers as well as counteroffers
  • Clarifies any real estate terms or clauses that buyers don’t understand
  • Oversees inspections and repairs, if necessary
  • Makes sure the buyer’s interests are protected on the closing day

One interesting fact about the buyers who hire a real estate agent to represent them is that they don’t have to pay the agent. The seller’s agent is going to split the commission with the buyer’s agent. So, in the end, the home seller ends up paying for the services provided by the buyer’s agent. Why not look for a real estate agent to represent you right now? 

What does a real estate agent do for a seller?

REALTORS® earn a commission on every sale, so they are very motivated to help home sellers find the right buyer as soon as possible. While in the US there is a short supply of affordable housing, some regions are a seller’s market while others are a buyer’s market. Real estate agents base their sales approach depending on the temperature of the local market. 

So, here is what a real estate agent does for home sellers:

  • Gets the property listed on the MLS
  • Markets the property according to a comprehensive marketing plan 
  • Suggests a competitive price for the property
  • Shows the property to potential buyers
  • Attends the home inspection and appraisal
  • Keeps in touch with the sellers and communicates properly
  • Advises the seller on lowering and sometimes even raising the price
  • Presents purchase offers to the seller
  • Makes sure the buyers are pre-approved for a home loan
  • Prepares the purchase agreement and handles all the paperwork

 

What does a real estate agent do for a renter?

In most people’s lives, renting is a temporary stage. Sooner or later, most renters decide to buy a property. However, hiring a REALTOR® is not the first thing that crosses their mind when looking for a new place to rent. Real estate agents can help renters the same way they help buyers. So nothing should hold renters back from collaborating with an agent. 

Why is it better to find a real estate agent when renting?

  • In some cases, it’s free - especially in the markets where landlords hire real estate agents to fill in vacancies. 
  • The agent is replacing the tenant, which many may find less intimidating
  • An agent can inspect the house and identify safety hazards or things that must be fixed
  • Negotiates the rent and the terms of the lease agreement or rental agreement
  • Hiring a real estate agent may be the only way to find a vacant unit or a high-end property to rent
  • Agents are knowledgeable of the area
  • Some agents focus on special niches to help you find the right property

 

What does a commercial real estate agent do?

Well, the definition of a real estate agent wouldn’t be complete if we omitted commercial properties. Major real estate brokers who deal with commercial properties work with many experienced real estate agents. They do exactly what a residential real estate agent does. A major drawback is that it usually takes a lot more time to sell an office building or a fast-food restaurant than a single-family home. However, commercial real estate agents may choose to work in brokerage, development or property management. 

  • Working for a brokerage specializing in commercial real estate, they can earn a commission for selling properties such as retail spaces, industrial sites, and office buildings. 
  • In real estate development, they would take care of a commercial project such as a shopping mall from start to finish, which involves finding the right lot, securing tenants, and building the final shopping center among many other things. 
  • Property managers are usually paid a salary and handle day-to-day operations such as finding contractors for maintenance and repairments and do everything to ensure the property maintains its market value or appreciates. 

 

What are the real estate agent responsibilities?

The daily schedule of a real estate agent can be very hectic and chaotic. Flexibility takes its toll on their lives, and many agents find themselves working in the evening or during the weekend. So, time management is a huge responsibility for all agents as long as they pursue this career. It’s good to know what are the real estate agent responsibilities because in this way you can evaluate him/her yourself.

The real estate agent responsibilities are:

  • To monitor, update, and service listings
  • To schedule showings and open houses
  • To disclose everything that is required without making the seller vulnerable
  • To prepare and deliver all the necessary documents on time to speed up the selling process
  • To market their business and attend networking events regularly
  • To look for new leads
  • To stay in touch with principals
  • To make sure he/she doesn’t break any laws such as the Fair Housing Act
  • To learn continuously and improve their practice
  • To be loyal, confidential, and obedient, respecting the requests of their principal

Finding what are the real estate agent’s responsibilities before signing any agreement allows homebuyers and sellers to better understand the agency relationship they are about to enter. 

What is a real estate agent's salary?

Most REALTORS® don’t know how much money they’ll take home at the end of the month. Their incomes are fluctuating with the market. There are peaks and valleys. However, the average commission was 5.08% last year and half of the real estate professionals have closed 11 or less residential transactions, according to the NAR. But the most thrilling part of the business is exactly the unlimited earning potential. A salary doesn’t provide enough financial stimulus and stamina. The average salary of REALTORS® is currently $41,736, according to salary[dot]com. Incomes vary greatly, though, depending on their seniority, experience, and, nonetheless, their attitude. According to Forbes, real estate agents in New York, Texas and Hawaii make the most money, while the least fortunate seem to be those in Ohio, Arkansas, and Montana.  

So, no matter what is the type of property that you intend to sell, buy or rent, don’t think twice and find a REALTOR® in your area. Spare yourself of many doubts and fears! 

Have a question or comment?
We're here to help.

 
 
 
*** Your email address will remain confidential.
 
 
 

 

Popular Real Estate Terms

Popular Real Estate Questions