The real estate transaction: Getting the most for your money

You want to buy or sell a home, so you hire a real estate professional and let him or her do the work. Although that might be the scenario that comes to mind for many, things are not so clear-cut today.

Given the significant growth of the real estate market in recent years, new companies are entering the business all the time. As such, there are many factors reshaping the way consumers buy and sell real estate. The Internet, for example, puts real estate information at our fingertips. Just as users can make everyday purchases, arrange travel plans and manage financial investments online from the comfort of their homes, they can also access real estate information and services on the Web. Consumers are increasingly in the driver’s seat, with most younger buyers finding the home they buy online.

In addition, non-traditional or "specialty" real estate brokers are growing in number. New options such as fee-for-service and discount realty are now available to people looking to buy or sell a home. Such alternatives are heavily marketed to consumers empowered by the knowledge they gain online. iBuying is gaining traction in some parts of the country, but it is still a niche product, especially in New England, where buyers prefer to see the home they want with a trusted advisor who knows the area.

No one disputes that it’s good for consumers to have options. But sometimes more choices can create more confusion. How can today’s consumers make the best choice when it comes to their own real estate transactions? According to the Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS®, it’s important to understand what you get for your money.

In many cases, a Realtor (or other real estate professional) provides all the services necessary to buy or sell a home. Such services may include developing a marketing plan, performing a comparative market analysis, advertising, providing signage and brochures, offering MLS placement services, coordinating open houses and assisting with forms and other technical matters.

An alternative to a traditional full-service relationship may be a fee-for-service arrangement. In such cases, an agreement is drawn up for the Realtor® to receive payment for handling specific services while the client takes on other responsibilities. Another trend in the real estate industry is discount brokerages, which are often confused with fee-for-service agreements. The latter usually offer both buyers and sellers a wide range of optional services on an unbundled or "menu" basis.

The Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS® recommends that potential buyers or sellers find a Realtor who knows their local market and can explain the various options available. The following are tips to find the best Realtor for you:

Get referrals from friends and family.Interview at least three Realtors before you make your decision.Check out the "For Sale" signs. If you’re interested in a particular neighborhood, yard signs help you find out not only which houses are currently on the market but the names and numbers of Realtors representing sellers in the area.Look for Realtors who understand your particular situation, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, a second home shopper or someone who requires assistance with your credit history.

Realtors are trusted advisors and skilled negotiators as well as the consumer’s source of unparalleled market knowledge. Visit our web site at

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