There are numerous ways to buy a home in Ventura County. You can purchase a home through a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), through an online auction site, or even a live auction. While some of these methods may be gaining popularity, most people will agree that a traditional sale using a real estate agent is still the most common approach. Today we will be discussing the role of real estate agents and some of the services they can provide you.
A real estate agent is an intermediary between two parties that are buying and selling a piece of real estate. When working with a seller, the agent’s job is to market the home and sell it for the highest possible price. When working with a buyer, the real estate agent assists them in looking at various homes that fit their criteria and then helping them get the house of their choice for the lowest possible price (or the best terms that fit their individual needs). In California, a real estate agent must pass an exam to receive their real estate salesperson license. In order to take the exam, applicants must be at least 18 years old and be able to provide proof of legal presence in the United States. Applicants also must have completed college level courses in real estate principles, real estate practice, and one additional class from a small list of courses. Once the requirements are met and an applicant takes and passes the exam, they are given a license application that must be submitted and approved by the California Bureau of Real Estate.
When a person receives their real estate license, they are now able to practice real estate activities under a licensed real estate broker. A real estate broker is a professional who owns, manages, or operates their own brokerage. In order to become a broker, a real estate salesperson must have at least two years of full-time licensed experience within the last five years and pass another written exam. In order to qualify for the broker’s exam, applicants must complete eight college level courses from a specified list. A real estate agent who obtains a broker’s license does not have to open or run their own brokerage and may continue to work under another broker in the same capacity as a real estate salesperson.
Real estate agent services for sellers
Once a seller has selected a real estate agent to represent them, the two parties will sign a written contract known as a listing agreement. The standard terms in the listing agreement include the price the house will be listed at, the time period that the house will be listed for, and how much commission the agent will be making. The listing agreement also informs the seller of legal requirements that are involved in the selling process. During the listing period, some of the services that the real estate agent will offer to the seller are as follows:
- Lists the property for sale on the MLS and market the property using additional materials and avenues they may have.
- Provides the seller with all necessary forms and documents throughout the selling process.
- Places a “For Sale” sign on the front yard with the contact information of the agent.
- Holds an open house to showcase the home and allow interested buyers to do a walk through.
- Be the single point of contact for potential buyers to answer any questions and schedule viewing appointments.
- Negotiate price with the buyer’s agent on behalf of the seller.
If the agent is successful in conducting the sale of the home, the real estate agent (and broker) will receive a commission as payment for their services. In California, the median commission rate is 6% of the purchase price of the home. Usually, the commission is split evenly between the seller’s agent and the buyers’ agent. Although negotiable, the local real estate market usually dictates a standard rate for real estate agent commissions. It is also typical that the commission to both the seller’s and buyer’s agent is paid by the seller upon closing of the transaction. This can also be negotiated between the buyer and seller as necessary.
Real estate agent services for buyers
Although some people only consider using a real estate agent when selling their home, an agent can also be an invaluable asset when buying a home. Real estate agents have knowledge of the local real estate market and surrounding neighborhoods that most people do not have. Since they deal with real estate transactions on a day-to-day basis, they are also usually able to point you in the right direction when it comes to available financing options. Last but not least, real estate agents have access to the MLS, which offers information on homes that cannot be found on other websites such as Zillow or Redfin. If you choose to work with a real estate agent when looking for a home to purchase, here are some of the services they can offer you:
- Search for properties based on your criteria.
- Access to properties for viewing purposes.
- Negotiate the price and terms of the purchase.
- Knowledge of what inspections must be done and/or should be done.
- Prepare contracts when submitting offers on properties.
Should you use a real estate agent?
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, there are different methods to both buying and selling a home. Whether you decide to go with a traditional sale or purchase of a home is ultimately up to you, but be sure to do your due diligence on whatever course you choose to pursue. Many people who choose not to go through a real estate agent do so in hopes of saving the cost associated with the commission. While this can be a way to save money, you must also consider what you will be losing out on by not going through an agent. Sometimes an agents’ knowledge and expertise can save you more than you would have lost out on with the commission. For more information about using a real estate agent, check out our Ultimate Guide to Buying and Selling Real Estate in Ventura County and our For Sale By Owner page.