Home sellers and buyers still depend on realtors to reach their goal.
Smartphones, tablets and personal computers have revolutionized how the Internet can assist in buying or selling a house. However, it still takes a personal touch to build a relationship between the two. This is the role a realtor plays.
Donna Breen, county Board of Realtors president, said it takes more than snapping pictures and posting them on a website to sell a house.
''It is not like anyone can post a sign in their yard and sell their home. There is a lot more a real estate agent does to sell property,'' she said. ''It takes a sale agent's ability to work with people to build a level of comfort and trust.''
The first way the realtor helps the seller is by marketing the house. After assigning an accurate price, the real estate agent uses their connections to expose the home.
''We have a system called an autoresponder. For example, you're a buyer looking for a home between $100,000 to $150,000. You are put into the system. Once a house comes up for sale in that range, you automatically get the information about it and its location,'' she said. ''Because of syndicated feeds, within 72 hours, thousands of people know about the home from all over.''
An open house is an important time for the buyer and seller. For the seller, the agent can tell the homeowner how to prepare the house for a showing.
''The real estate agent is a buffer to deal with problems. We're there to tell you if your home smells like a litter box. A buyer isn't going to tell you,'' Breen said. ''During the open house process, everyone tells you that they love your home. Not what might be wrong with it. Sale by owners don't have someone telling them potential problems.''
For the buyer, an open house is important so a realtor knows you are looking and what you want. This way the agent can match a buyer with a house they know is on the market.
''It is good to have an open house so we know who the buyers are,'' Breen said. ''Because of the pool of homes we have, we generally find buyers for houses not even having the open house. I can talk to the buyer and find out what they like and match them up with the house they're looking for. Then at another open house, I can find a new buyer that fits the first open house. It goes full circle.''
FINANCING, PAPER WORK
The first step for a potential buyer is to go through the financing stage. Breen said each buyer is prequalified before they are shown any houses.
''The beauty of the system is we know the buyers are qualified so we can start to get their ducks in a row,'' she said. ''We work with them throughout the whole process of getting a mortgage, which isn't easy. It used to be if you had blood flowing through your veins you could get a mortgage. Now, you have to be squeaky-clean financially to get a mortgage. We help the buyer be squeaky-clean.''
After the financing is done and the homebuyer and seller have reached a deal, the attorneys get involved. From contracts to housing surveys to a property appraisal, attorneys clear the red tape to proceed to the closing.
''Once we have a closing scheduled, that is when an agent makes sure the utilities are all switched. We take the buyer through the home one more time to make sure it is the same as when they put an offer in,'' she said. ''Then, if everything is good, the buyer goes to the attorney's office to sign and then we hand over the keys.''
Additional benefits realtors add to the process is knowing general contractors, painters and other trade businesses to help with renovations or remolding. Plus, they have to continue their education to be updated on new laws which could possibly complicate buying or selling a house. The agent is also there to help both parties through, what can be, a stressful process.
''Whether you are selling or buying, this is a highly emotional time. Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest decisions and investments people make in a lifetime,'' she said. ''I think I can speak for all agents when I say it is a privilege to work with buyers and sellers to be a part of this decision. Through the process, we all get to meet and make new friends.''