A broker is the principal member of a firm that engages in property sales. Brokers may employ sales agents or associates who service the needs of potential buyers and sellers. They make sales presentations, conduct open house tours, identify sources of financing, and coordinate the sales transaction.
A broker in general practice can handle many different kinds of property; single-family housing, commercial property, industrial property, income-producing property, and farms and acreage. Brokers can also specialize in one or more of these areas, but they need not limit themselves to one specialty.
Usually when people think of real estate as a career they think in terms of selling homes. This view is not surprising because residential brokerage is the largest single area of real estate. In fact, the greatest volume of real estate activity consists of selling residential property.
Helping people buy and sell homes is one of the most basic and important services a real estate agent performs. For the seller, agents try to sell the property within a reasonable length of time, at a fair price. For the buyer, agents try to find a desirable property which meets their client’s needs at a fair price. Since both seller and buyer could use advertisements in the newspaper, why would they use an Agent? Agents are experts in the process of buying and selling property, financing, government programs, etc. Their expertise facilitates the transaction, saving clients time, trouble and money. Brokers and Sales agents have the added advantage of Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which provides a wider selection of properties and exposure to more buyers.
Brokers or sales agents for a broker are a central source for both buyers and sellers. They have the facilities and contacts for attracting buyers and desirable property listings to offer them. This requires that they have a good basic background in residential real estate as well as in several related areas.
Sales agents need to know the community. Agents are expected to be familiar with the market, and amenities available in the neighborhoods they serve. They need to know the various state, federal and local laws affecting the sale and rental of residential real estate. They can then advise the seller as to the expected price range based on comparable sales and other techniques.
In some smaller communities, most of the homes sold are single-family houses. In urban areas, brokers have the opportunity to handle condominiums, cooperatives, apartment buildings, mobile homes and other types of housing.
Buyers expect agents to have a broad knowledge of the neighborhoods and prices of homes in them. They will want to know the comparative advantages of different locations: access to shopping, schools, public transportation, other necessities and amenities. Sales often depend on how quickly and accurately these questions are answered.
Questions are asked about tax and utility rates, building and zoning restrictions, and street and highway plans. When showing houses, agents may be consulted about things as seemingly unrelated as the kind of grass to grow in the back yard, what it might cost to heat or cool, and whether it is more practical to remodel or build room an addition.