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BEHIND THE SCENES
What a Realtor Really Does
By Scott Albright
Recently it’s come to my attention that realtors don’t always have the best reputation among the general populace. There seems to be this false notion they don’t work hard for their money and that they are out to bamboozle people into buying something they don’t want or need. Realtors are partly to blame for this reputation, but much of it has to do with the fact the general public doesn’t know what realtors really do behind the scenes. This article is meant to open the eyes of the general public so they can better understand what it is a realtor does when you're not looking.
Just to become a realtor one has to go through extensive education and training during the pre-licensing process before having to take a state and national exam to receive their license. Many people never even make it this far, but for those who do, know that’s just the beginning of a very challenging career path. After receiving an associate broker license, a realtor must then decide which firm to hang their license with. Picking the wrong firm could lead to an early failed career or even legal problems that realtor has no control over. But picking the right firm doesn’t mean automatic success either.
Like any business, it takes time to gain experience and earn the trust of customers and clients. It also takes money. Not only are there pre-licensing and test fees, but then there are association dues, lockbox fees, custom relation management software costs, advertising and marketing fees, continuing education costs, and other business expenses; such as paying for gas when driving around to show all those houses, networking events, conferences, paying for assistants, and commission cuts which the brokerage firm will take a hefty chunk of for those with smaller sales volumes.
A realtor is typically an independent contractor, meaning there are no health or dental benefits, no guaranteed overtime or sick pay, no company car, no company phone or computer, and a lot of times no office space for them to work out of. It means they pay a self-employment tax which includes social security, state, and federal income tax without the assistance of an employer. It means they are responsible for running their own business, but if they do something wrong not only can they personally be held accountable through legal action, but so can the brokerage they hang their license with. They have to follow state and federal laws, the Real Estate Commission’s rules and regulations, and their brokerage’s policies and procedures, all the while trying to follow their own business plans, guidelines, and self-recommendations.
Then there’s the competition. In Albuquerque alone, there are currently more realtors than there are houses for sale. There are online platforms like Zillow which offer direct sales between owners and buyers, other for sale by owners, large internationally recognized firms, medium size firms, small local firms, and independent one-person brokerage services. Some work in teams, others have specializations in farm and ranch land, or foreclosures and rehabs, and some only do new construction or luxury homes. The market can get gobbled up quick by these competitors, and for the newbie, it’s hard to gain traction in this rough terrain. Some will break through easily because of their dedication and hard work, or simply because they already have a large network of friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances ready to buy or sell their homes. But for the newbie who doesn’t break through early on but is committed to being successful, this is where the work really begins.
After hour upon hour of making phone calls, following up with leads via emails and texts, blasting social media posts, showing house after house, and spending hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on marketing, a break will come through. A client will finally sign a listing agreement or agree to put an offer on a house, and that’s when the craziness really starts. There are offers and counter-offers. The ordering of title commitments, home inspections, pest inspections, home warranties, and appraisals. There is the potential of earnest money not being delivered on time or home insurance not being ordered by the deadline. There are last minute addendums and amendments to be written, repairs that need to be ordered and made sure are done on time and correctly, there are walk-throughs & final walk-throughs to be completed, and closings to take place, sometimes across state lines. Not to mention, there can be tenants to deal with, language barriers and communication issues, frauds and scams, and of course the whole loan and transferring of funds process a realtor has to be aware of.
There are VA loans, FHA loans, MFA programs, owner financing, conventional loans, jumbo loans, and USDA loans. There are cash buyers, trusts, joint tenants, divorcees, estates, and other types of buyers and sellers. There are extensions, quibbles over closing costs, rude clients, bulldog buyers’ brokers, low-balling investors, and of course the people who don’t answer their phones or emails when deadlines are fast approaching. So yes, a realtor is more than just a salesperson trying to get you to buy or sell a home. A realtor is a jack of all trades, but still not really allowed to be a master of any, except their own, which is much harder to define than one might think.
Realtors do put in hard work and the vast majority aren’t trying to trick you into buying something you don’t want or need. Not only are they putting in often much unappreciated hard work for customers and clients, but they are also doing their best to help those clients to get what they truly desire out of each real estate transaction, all the while trying to put food on the table and pay their own bills. So, next time you see a realtor, don’t think of them as desk jockeys out to make a quick profit – think of them as multi-talented people working hard to put a roof over someone’s head or to put cash into someone else’s pocket.
Scott Albright is an Associate Broker with The M Real Estate Group. He has held an active associate broker license in the state of New Mexico since 2016. He holds a Master's degree in China-U.S. Relations, and has a Bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in journalism. Scott can be reached on his cell phone at (505) 918-2370 or through the office phone at (505) 247-1002 ext. 156.