First of all, let's dispel the common misconception that home buyers have about REALTORS®. Some buyers are still under the impression that by allowing a Realtor to accept them as a client they will pay a REALTORS® commission.

Although a very few REALTORS® now charge buyers a fee, all commissions in any property sale are paid by the seller to the listing broker. What does this mean to the buyer? It means that buyers get free representation. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but it is true.

 If you are a buyer shopping for a home, right now, you can contact a REALTOR®, get her or him to show you a zillion homes (a bad idea, but that will have to be another article) and then ask the REALTOR  to write up and deliver a contract for you to the seller with the terms and conditions you choose… and still you will pay that REALTOR® absolutely nothing.

In fact, almost any REALTOR® will be willing and able to help you with a range of services: find a mortgage lender who meets your needs, explain the process of buying a home to you, negotiate the contract, refer you to any number of contractors or professionals for estimates, and help you progress successfully through settlement to close on your dream property. And, yes, it is all free to the buyer.

A REALTOR® can help you in so many ways and yet buyers today are still so anxious about committing to a REALTOR® that they will often do themselves a disservice by opting to forgo a REALTOR® or delay in contacting a one until they have already spent countless hours driving around from home to home, and calling listing agents on their own, each time they want to see a property.

A first-rate REALTOR® can really save you a lot of time, money and stress! Because a REALTOR® has so much more experience than the average buyer in purchasing a home, they will notice items that a buyer might overlook, such as water or pest damage, high-traffic roads, or items that could lower a property's value. They will know a developer or a builder's reputation. They may even know about a great house that's going to be put up for sale in a few days. And yes, again, this is all free to the buyer.

Need a one-story single family home with a heated garage, a mother-in-law suite and located in a pool community? An experienced REALTOR® can not only quickly retrieve a list of available properties that meet your criteria, he or she may even be able to propose an alternative that fits your needs that you may have never considered.

For example, I met with a couple recently who had made a list of their ‘must-haves’. One of the items on this list was a basement. Where I asked them what they intended to use the basement for, one of the pair replied that he needed it for his very LOUD hobby. I mentioned that there was currently for sale an unusual home with a 2-car attached garage AND a detached 3-car garage which was on the opposite side of the driveway from the house... and that this 3-car garage was heated and even had a second floor. At a glance I could see from their expressions that I had made that "lightbulb" connection. And while they didn't end up buying that particular house, they told me that they appreciated having a REALTOR® who could see the forest through the trees.

And it cost them nothing. Really.

Think Fast: Are you working with a Sales Representative or a REALTOR®? Ask your agent if they are a REALTOR®. This registered term means that they are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and as such are required to adhere to ethical standards of practice outline by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Copyright 2008. The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group. All rights reserved.