Considerations When Choosing a REALTOR®

By Heidi Paek, REALTOR®

Real estate agents go by different titles and a variety of designations. Should a buyer or seller in search of an agent pay attention to the alphabet soup?

Yes. The designations carry meaning and could impact the quality of services being provided.

For starters, real estate agent and REALTOR® are not synonymous. A real estate agent is a person who is licensed by the state to negotiate and transact real estate sales, whereas a REALTOR®, through membership in the National Association of REALTORS®, is a real estate agent who pledges to uphold the additional high standards of the trade association.

Most significantly, REALTORS® are subject to a strict code of ethics, above and beyond the standards required by law. The 17-article code of ethics covers such topics as honesty, non-discrimination, putting clients’ interests first, disclosing material facts and conflicts of interest, and truthful advertising.

REALTORS® also pledge to provide only those services for which they are qualified. For matters beyond their expertise, they serve as the “source of the source,” pointing clients to allied professionals who specialize in law, lending, construction and the like. Through the North Shore Association of REALTORS® in Beverly, local REALTORS® can readily connect their clients with a broad network of attorneys, mortgage brokers, appraisers, home inspectors and housing advocates.

The Association also provides regulatory updates and educational opportunities, including programs for additional credentialing. For example, the Certified Buyer Representative (CBR) designation indicates a specialty in real estate purchases. CBR REALTORS® are professionally trained to represent buyers.

Another title is Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES). SRES REALTORS® have a niche practice in counseling people over age 50 through major financial and lifestyle transitions, including selling family homes, downsizing, relocating, and buying retirement homes.  

The decision to buy or sell a property is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. As you consider which agent to work with, ask about his or her qualifications and specializations. Has your candidate made a full-time commitment to working in the field? Have they pledged to uphold the high standards of the trade association? How has he or she been trained?

Professional affiliations and designations will help assure you of your agent’s seriousness about serving clients and his or her preparation to do the job.

Heidi Paek, CBR, GREEN, SRES, REALTOR®at Keller Williams Realty, is an Ipswich home owner.