What is the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a REALTOR®?

Most people outside the real estate industry use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably — like facial tissue and Kleenex®.  This is incorrect.  Although both terms are similar, there are two basic differences between real estate agents and REALTORS®:  REALTORS® are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and must adhere to its Code of Ethics.  Real estate agents do not.

The Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public, is strictly enforced and consists of 17 Articles and related Standards of Practice.  It’s mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years.

Here are the 17 things that REALTORS® pledge.

  1. REALTORS® protect and promote their clients’ interests while treating all parties honestly.
  2. REALTORS® refrain from exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to property or transactions.
  3. REALTORS® cooperate with other real estate professionals to advance their clients’ best interests.
  4. When buying or selling on their own account or for their families or firms, REALTORS® make their true position or interest known.
  5. REALTORS® do not provide professional services where they have any present or contemplated interest in property without disclosing that interest to all affected parties.
  6. REALTORS® disclose any fee or financial benefit they may receive from recommending related real estate products or services.
  7. REALTORS® receive compensation from only one party, except where they make full disclosure and receive informed consent from their client.
  8. REALTORS® keep entrusted funds of clients and customers in a separate escrow account.
  9. REALTORS® make sure that contract details are spelled out in writing and that parties receive copies.
  10. REALTORS® give equal professional service to all clients and customers irrespective of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
  11. REALTORS® are knowledgeable and competent in the fields of practice in which they engage or they get assistance from a knowledgeable professional, or disclose any lack of expertise to their client.
  12. REALTORS® paint a true picture in their advertising and in other public representations.
  13. REALTORS® do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.
  14. REALTORS® willingly participate in ethics investigations and enforcement actions.
  15. REALTORS® make only truthful, objective comments about other real estate professionals.
  16. Respect the exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS® have with their clients.
  17. REALTORS® arbitrate financial disagreements with other REALTORS® and with their clients.

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At the time of writing, Mark J. Kiklis, License #9090469, is the Broker-Manager at Kiklis Real Estate, LLC in Methuen, MA.

#Howto Order A Duplicate Drivers License

A valid drivers license or other government issued identification is one of the only items you must bring to your real estate closing. Massachusetts does not provide notice to its residents when its time to renew.

If you have a closing coming up, check your wallet or purse to make sure your license is valid. Your closing will not happen if you can’t produce a valid government issued form of identification.

If you have recently purchased a new home, it is well worth the $25.00 expense to order a duplicate drivers license with your new address. Especially if you have recently renewed your drivers license. Otherwise, you will walk around with that old address on your license for as long as 4-5 years!

The expense will pay for itself when the local police give you a warning for a moving violation when a non-resident would have received a ticket! That is money in your pocket!

Who is going to believe you somewhere if the address isn’t on your license?

Click the photograph below, or the link above to order a duplicate drivers license online.

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Jack O’Donohue is a Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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9 Helpful Websites For First Time Home Buyers

Don’t waste your time watching HGTV! The internet is the best place to learn the ins and outs of the real estate market. Thankfully, we have LTE, WiFi, tablets, laptops and smartphones, and we don’t have to rely on old computers and dial up modems.

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Here is our list of the most helpful and informative websites for first time home buyers in Massachusetts (in no particular order):

1. Massachusetts Land Records

All documents related to the ownership of real estate in Massachusetts can be found here.The site has links to each of the twenty-one registry districts.

2. Inman News

Don’t be overwhelmed. This is a news site for Realtors and Brokers. Take five minutes to scan the “Todays Real Estate News” section and you will be well informed about what is happening in the real estate business.

3. Zillow

I know most readers know about Zillow, but in the off-chance someone stumbles across this article who has never heard of the site, check it out! The simplistic home page allows the user to enter a property address and instantaneously view an approximate valuation. The site has some room for improvement when it comes to evaluating multi-family properties, but it is a wonderful tool for the average user searching for a home. The iPad app is fantastic.

4. HotPads

Hotpads was recently aquired by Zillow. The foreclosure heat map is a great tool to see which areas were hit the hardest by the housing crisis. The rent vs. buy calculator is an excellent tool. Its a great website to see what the rental market is across the state without browsing on Craigslist.

5. The Niche Report

This is another site intended for industry professionals. What an incredible wealth of information you will find here. The latest news, in-depth articles, charts and chatter from across the country. I highly recommend subscribing to the RSS feed.

6. Twitter

We already know how to use Twitter to find real estate. Interact with other users, search for updates about communities, and learn about whats trending in your local #realestate market. Don’t forget to follow @RealEstateLawMA!

7. Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA)

CHAPA’s mission is to “encourage the production and preservation of housing that is affordable to low and moderate income families and individuals and to foster diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development.” CHAPA offers pre-purchase and post-purchase homebuyer workshops several times per week. In addition to the workshops, the organization provides information about lotteries and resales, and links to community based homebuyer counseling agencies.

8. Facebook

Facebook is one of the few sites where you might learn about a property before its even listed! You never know who in your network might post something that could lead to a sweetheart deal for your first home. Even if you don’t use facebook often, skim or search your news feed for chatter about houses and real estate. If you catch a property pre-market, it will be a win for everyone except the real estate agents…

9. Real Estate, Real Problems

Here is the shameless plug for Real Estate, Real Problems! We may not be the best yet, but we are working hard to be the best resource out there for first time home buyers in Massachusetts. Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook if you haven’t already!

Jack O’Donohue is a Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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Why Do Mortgage Companies Care About Your Large Bank Deposits?

large bank deposits

If you’re like most people applying for a mortgage, or getting pre-approved for a mortgage you will be asked by your mortgage company “to source your large bank deposits.(A large deposit is generally considered any non payroll deposit over $1000. This includes simple transfers from checking/savings accounts.)

Why Do Mortgage Companies Care About Your Large Bank Deposits?

  1. Mortgage companies are required by law (USA Patriot Act) to source deposits in order to combat money laundering. If we do not source the deposit we could be held liable if money laundering is determined to have taken place.
  2. Mortgage companies want to determine that you have the funds available to pay for your mortgage. More specifically they need to know that you are not relying upon one-time sources of funds such as gifts, gambling winnings, etc to qualify.

If you have large deposits in your bank accounts, you will need to “source” those deposits by providing evidence of the check and/or origin of the funds.

Of course, you can also avoid having to provide evidence for sourcing large deposits by not depositing or transferring funds until your mortgage is finalized.

When you are asked to “source a large deposit” now you know why!

Jarred Alexandrov is the Marketing Director and Loan Coordinator at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

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