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.

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REO Buyer Beware Re: Smoke and CO Detectors

If Massachusetts, it is the sellers responsibility to outfit the home with approved smoke detectors & carbon monoxide detectors. It is further the sellers obligation to obtain a compliance certificate from the local fire department prior to closing.

However, when working with Buyers of bank owned(REO) and foreclosed property, I frequently encounter property listings that disclose it is the Buyer’s responsibility to obtain the smoke & CO compliance certificate.

Most REO purchase contracts include this language because the property is being sold “as-is”.

Inexperienced agents may simply let this go, but I like to take fight back.  I recommend that my clients write offers that clearly articulate that the smoke & carbon monoxide detectors and the corresponding compliance certificate shall remain the responsibility of the Seller.  Some agents object, but if the Buyer’s offer is strong and well-qualified, most listing agents will submit to this request with an offer.

Mark J. Kiklis, REALTOR® at Kiklis Real Estate, LLC                            Follow Mark on Twitter

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Buying A Foreclosure? Order the Title Exam Before You Sign

Buying a foreclosed property can be an excellent investment in today’s economic climate.  Roughly 3% of all real property for sale in Massachusetts is bank owned, down from approximately 8% in October of 2010.  There is still plenty of inventory to chose from.

The sellers obligation is to convey the property to the buyer with good and clear record and marketable title. Many banks (and counsel) have been sloppy with the requisite paperwork these last few years.

In a typical situation, Buyers uncover title mistakes weeks or months after the purchase and sales agreement is signed by all parties. What a waste of time!

If you have located a bank-owned house that you want to buy, research the title to the property before you sign the purchase and sales agreement. Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish. Preliminarily review the land records and if you don’t have any experience reviewing a real estate title, hire an attorney to review the title for you.

The $200-$350 expense will be well worth it.

Mark J. Kiklis, REALTOR® at Kiklis Real Estate, LLC

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