Finding and purchasing the right home can be difficult- especially when you're not sure who is involved. You need to understand the role that REALTORS®, principals, agents -seller's agents - play in a real estate transaction. The more informaed you are, the better choices you'll make, and the sooner you'll move into your new home! To help you understand your choices, this brochure answers many basic questions. For in-depth answers to your specific situation, talk with a real estate professional and ask about individual local practices before you hire an agent.|

The following are descriptions of type of real estate licensees:

The REALTOR® Advantage
Not every real estate licensee is a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® has taken extra steps to become a member of an association of real estate professionals that adheres to the strict REALTOR® Code of Ethics. By working with a REALTOR®, you have assurances that your transaction will be handled professionally, and that your rights in real estate activities will be protected by the Code of Ethics. Individual REALTORS® may work in some or all facets of a real estate transaction, acting as seller's agents, buyer's agents, broker's agents, subagents or as dual agents. Once you are familiar with these terms, you can find a REALTOR® that will be able to provide the services you need to list, show and sell your house.

A broker is a person who has passed an exam and proven the necessary experience to earn the designation and is licensed by state. A broker may practice individually, with a licensed partnership, or as a corporation or a limited liability company.

Principal Broker
Generally, principal brokers serve as the representative of the licensed firm for regulatory purposes, supervising the real estate company and its licensed sales associates (associate brokers and salespersons).

Associate Broker
An associate broker is a licensed broker who has chosen to affiliate with another licensed broker and act subject to that broker's supervision when acting on behalf of the firm's consumer clients.

A salesperson is a licensee associated with a licensed firm who acts subject to that broker's supervision when acting on behalf of the firm's consumer clients.

Seller's agent
A seller's agent, or listing agent, is a real estate agent who is employed by and represents only the seller in a transaction. The agent's responsibilities to you, the seller, include: Listing your property for sale and placing it (with your permission) in a Multiple Listing Service, which provides you with a wide range of prospective buyers Always acting for your benefit, and putting your interests above the interests of any other person Protecting any confidential information which may weaken your bargaining power (an urgency to sell, for example) Familiarizing you with the purchase and sale process Evaluating your property and offering suggestions to increase its marketability Advertising your property with yard signs, newspaper or home magazine ads or other available media Negotiating the best price and terms for the sale of your property Evaluating offers and suggesting counteroffers Traditionally, all real estate agents represented the seller. However, there are consumer alternatives. Now, many real estate transactions involve subagents, buyer's agents and/or dual agents. These alternatives are discussed below.

Like the seller's agent, the subagent works for you. Although a subagent is often first contacted by the potential buyer, and works hard to help that buyer find the right home to purchase, a subagent represents the seller during purchase negotiations. A subagent is usually hired by a seller's agent, and they typically slit the commission on the sale.

Broker's agent
The broker's agent works for the seller's agent and, like the seller's agent, for you. You are not, however, responsible for their conduct. A broker's agent is hired by a seller's agent and they typically split the commission on the sale.

Buyer's agent
A buyer's agent is a real estate agent who is employed by and represents only the buyer in a transaction. Although they work exclusively for the buyer, their compensation can be paid in a number of ways- by the buyer exclusively, the seller exclusively, or (most commonly) through a commission split with the seller's agent. Even if you or your agent pays their fee, buyer's agents remain loyal to the buyer, and must disclose everything they know or have heard about the property to the buyers.

Dual agent
A dual agent represents both the seller and the buyer with the knowledge and written consent of both. Ultimately, dual agents work to sell your home, but they cannot give either you or the buyer their undivided loyalty or disclose confidential information that either of you has told them. They operate under a duty of fairness to both clients, rather than the duty of undivided loyalty to either of them. Dual agency occurs when the office or firm that is listing your home also has a client that is interested in purchasing your home. Even if the buyer is working with a different associate from the firm, it is still considered dual agency. In the situation of dual agency, the agents cannot share without permission what price you would accept for your property, or what price a buyer is willing to pay. For you to sell your property to another client of the firm, consent to the dual agency must be obtained or only one consumer can remain a client of the firm. Consent to dual agency may include agreement by you and the buyer to each identify a separate 'designated agent' within the firm to represent your interests individually. However, the basic goals stay the same- the buyer wants to buy, the seller wants to sell, and the agents want to finalize the transaction on mutually agreeable terms.