Choose a REALTOR® to Sell Your Home

Once you've decided to sell your home or land, finding a REALTOR® is the next step in the process. In making this important decision you should understand:
     Who is a REALTOR®
     How to evaluate an agent
     What a REALTOR® will do for you
     Selling on your own
If you're not in a "must sell" situation (job transfer, career opportunity, family upheaval, financial hardship), but rather in an "elective" one, you may want to consider adding on to your current home (if you need more space) or refinancing to lower monthly mortgage costs (if finances are a concern).

Who is a REALTOR®?
The terms agent, broker and REALTOR® are often used interchangeably, but have very different meanings. For example, not all agents (also called salespersons) and brokers are REALTORS®. Learn who is a REALTOR® and the reasons why you should use one. As a prerequisite to selling real estate for others, a person must be licensed by the state in which they work, either as an agent/salesperson or as a broker. Before a license is issued, minimum standards for education, examinations and experience, which are determined on a state by state basis, must be met.

After receiving a real estate license, most agents go on to join their local board or association of REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the world's largest professional trade association. They can then call themselves REALTORS®. The term "REALTOR®" is a registered
collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics (which in many cases goes beyond state law). In most areas, it is the REALTOR® who shares the information on the properties that they are marketing, through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Working with a REALTOR® who belongs to an MLS will give the seller's property the greatest exposure to buyers and will give buyers access to the greatest number of homes. This is one reason why buyers prefer to work with REALTORS®.

How to evaluate an agent
Without any obligation, you can invite local REALTORS® to visit your home and give you a "listing presentation" about why they're the best ones to market your property for you. Two to three presentations will probably give you a good opportunity for choice. A listing presentation includes having the REALTOR® review with you the reasons why you should list with that particular individual, and providing you with information that will assist you in making initial decisions about selling your home or land.

Recent laws in every state have defined the duties of someone specifically retained as a real estate agent. West Virginia, as with most states, requires a real estate agent to explain his or her role to both buyer and seller prior to any transaction between the buyer and seller. A professional agent will promptly provide such a disclosure. Look for an agent who:
     Is a member of the local board or association of REALTORS®
     Explains and provides written disclosure of agency relationships (the role of the agent, i.e., who they are representing... the buyer, the seller or both buyer and seller) early on in the process, at "serious first contact"
     Advises you on how to best prepare your home for the market
     Shows some enthusiasm for your property, listens attentively, instills confidence, operates in a professional manner, and has a complementary personality style to yours
     Has already researched your property in the public records and the MLS
     Brings data on nearby homes that have sold (or failed to sell) recently

The following are important questions to ask a potential agent:
     Are you a REALTOR®?
     Do you belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and do you submit your listings to for additional exposure nationally? Multiple Listing Services are cooperative information networks of REALTORS® that provide descriptions of most of the houses for sale in a particular region.
     Do you have a web site? How often is it updated? Can you show it to me right now?
      Are you proficient with email? Do you check and answer your email daily?
     Will you cooperate with all other area brokers and REALTORS® on a sale?
     What have you listed or sold in this neighborhood lately? How long was it on the market?
     Do you cooperate with buyers' agents?
     What share of the commission will you offer a cooperating broker who finds the buyer?
     In which large Metro areas do you advertise regularly?

And in addition to the criteria mentioned above, there are number of very important reasons you will typically prefer to work with a REALTOR®. Among them are the fact that they adhere to the NARís highest standards of ethical conduct and professional training. Ask me if you would like a copy of the NAR Code of Ethics.

What a REALTOR® will do for you
There are many important reasons to use a REALTOR®. Some of the duties your REALTOR® will perform for you include:
     Walking through the process of selling your home from beginning to end
     Providing comparable MLS information about the prices for which other properties have sold and analyzing data for you to gain a true comparison
     Supplying information regarding local customs and regulations you may want to consider
     Sharing information about your home through the Multiple Listing Service and on the Internet
     Placing advertisements for your home on
     Fielding phone calls, answering emails, sending data to prospects
     "Qualifying" potential buyers to make sure they would be financially able to buy your property
     Showing your property to those qualified to purchase
     Negotiating the sales contract
     Coordinating required inspections and testing
     Alerting you to potential risks
     Complying with the disclosures required by law
     Providing you with an estimate of the closing costs you will incur
     Helping you prepare for a smooth closing of the transaction

Selling on your own
"You can get rid of the broker, but you can't get rid of the broker's work" is an old caution for those who intend to offer their homes "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO). Selling on your own is not an easy undertaking. It requires a significant amount of time to study the process, understand your obligations, and do some of the complicated work that a real estate agent does. In addition, selling on your own still requires extra help from outside professionals, such as REALTORS®, inspectors, lenders and attorneys for some of the jobs that require specific expertise.

The following are some major pitfalls to consider:
     As a personal safety measure, only show your house to those individuals with whom you've made a prior appointment that's been confirmed by a phone call from you to them.
     Don't price the house so low that it sells too quickly - pay for a market value appraisal by an experienced professional appraiser.
     Hold out for a buyer with written pre-qualification from a lending institution.
     Find out your legal obligations.

Call or email if I can help you to sell your home or land!
Member:  National Association of REALTORS®
Member: Historic Highlands Board of REALTORS® as well as the Potomac Highlands Board of REALTORS®.
Board Director (Education & Technology) for the Potomac Highlands Board of REALTORS®.
State Director: WV Association of REALTORS®
Graduate of the REALTOR® Institute (GRI).
Member: Metropolitan Regional Information System, a high-tech Multiple Listing Systems covering the Washington, DC, Baltimore, Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Eastern West Virginia areas.
Awarded the honor of being the Coldwell Banker TOP Seller in the Potomac Highlands region for year 2001 and #2 for 2002.
Awarded: REALTOR® of the Year... 2003, Potomac Highlands Board of REALTORS®
Selling property in the Potomac Highlands counties of Hampshire, Mineral, Grant, Hardy, Pendleton, Tucker and Randolph.

Charlie Winfree, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker/Home Town Realty
Keyser, Romney & Petersburg, WV
H/O phone: 304-289-5424  7 days, 9AM - 9 PM
Email to:
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