In most states, new home sales agents must be licensed real estate agents. While obtaining a real estate license is not difficult in most states, it does require a licensing exam. The test contains a smattering of real estate laws that pertain to real estate sales, and a few basic construction questions. By far the most useful education in the art of real estate sales and construction knowledge falls to brokers and the real estate company they work for. Most companies offer a substantial training program, appropriate to the type of real estate sales they will be doing.
New Home Sales Agents: Real Estate Agents
In most states real estate agents must be licensed by the state. Assistants may be employed to host open houses, but these people may not quote prices, discuss interest rates, or actually sell a home. All new home sales agents and real estate agents must take a state sponsored test, and purchase a license. There are real estate courses offered at community colleges and even on line to help students pass the real estate agent exam. The length of time most real estate agents take to complete their study and take the test varies from 1 day to 6 months with an average of 8 weeks. Each year real estate agents must pay a fee to keep their license current.
In order to obtain a brokers license in most states the applicant must have at least two years of experience as a real estate agent. Most states require about eight college level courses and a licensing exam. They also have requirements involving the absence of a criminal record and an age requirement of at least 18 years.
Realtor is a term reserved for members of a group called the Board of Realtors. Most U.S. towns and cities have a chapter of the Board of Realtors. Though an invitation to join is generally expected by all agents, the Board of Realtors does have standards of their own, and there is a tremendous expectation of professionalism among members. It is considered an honor not taken lightly, to be asked to join. At the pinning ceremony a sponsoring member pins on the coveted Board of Realtors lapel pin. Agents who have one normally wear it to work. Both agents and brokers are eligible to join the Board of Realtors.
There are several different circumstances under which realtors sell real estate. Some real estate agents, brokers and realtors work for real estate agencies, and can sell any home listed by any real estate company in the area through the multiple listing services, MLS. These real estate agents must work in an office, directly under a broker. Real estate agents are generally trained by their companies about interest rates, loan closings, and prequalifying customers. They also learn about construction and home features. Education is extensive at first and then intermittent. This training is generally sponsored by a larger company into which their broker has purchased a franchise.
Some agents and brokers work for companies that sell only new houses for a number of different construction companies, while still others, sell only the new homes built by one home building company, usually in a single subdivision. Again the responsibility for education about home sales falls to the company employing the sales agents. Sales agents who sell homes from a variety of new home builders, are trained in the differences and similarities of these new homes, while those who sell only the homes of one company learn very specific information about a limited number of styles and a single company procedure for buying a home.
In most states it is generally accepted that at least legally speaking, unless otherwise specified the Realtor works for the seller. Buyers may hire their own realtor to insure loyalty if they prefer. The prevalence of that in a given area depends on the perceived need. In most areas buyers using Real estate agencies end up being very well represented by realtors, because they select a realtor to buy from. Completely outside of legal definitions, they become the buyer’s agent, touring many houses sold by different agencies and different private sellers. Thus unofficially they tend to be loyal to their buyer, as their customer, despite legal definition. Realtors usually drive around their city on many different days with each client, spending a lot of time getting to know them. They seek the best houses to show based on the client’s needs and desires. Realtors usually bond with their buyers, and take care of their best interests, even though they are legally bound to serve the seller.
Most new home real estate agents however, clearly work for the seller. Most are involved in marketing a single builder’s homes, usually in the builder’s model home. They work all day, showing and selling the same house over and over, ordering only slight variations of the same structure over and over. They focus on upgrade packages which define the quality of various elements of this same house, and perhaps offer a few different style and floor plan options. They are trained in an exhaustive knowledge of this home and all its possible variations. Their loyalty would by necessity be strongly with their employer as their only seller, compared with numerous buyers which they spend relatively little time with.
A buyer’s market is when there are more homes available to buy, than there are buyers. A sellers’ market is when there are relatively few homes on the market, and construction companies can’t build them fast enough. The last ten years have seen a massive buyer’s market all over the country. Even formerly exclusive communities are desperate to sell homes. Most home builders really want to sell homes. In this climate the educated homebuyer who understands that it is a buyer’s market can get a great deal on a home.
Oddly there have been reports in some areas of home buyers feeling intimidated by new home sales agents. They complain of being forced into using the company’s lender at a high rate of interest, pushed into signing arbitration contracts, and being unfairly encouraged to use the company’s appraiser as well. All these actions go against the home buyer’s best interest. Needless to say, it is very much a buyer’s market so if buyers feel pressured to act against their own best interests they should simply go to another builder. Considering the cost of a new home, and the bleakness of the current market for home builders, why should a buyer feel so pressured by new home sales agents, rather than demand better service?