The Difference Between Realtors® and Real Estate Agents

I. Realtors® Defined

There is a subtle but significant difference between Realtors® and real estate agents and it’s not just something confusing to students at the West Virginia Real Estate School, Spruce School of Real Estate, it’s everyone. Said simply, just because you hold a WV Real Estate License it doesn’t mean you automatically have earned the title of REALTOR®: while both a real estate agent and a REALTOR® are licensed to list and sell real estate, only Realtors® have pledged to adhere to a Code of Ethics set forth by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). This doesn’t change the fact that both agents and Realtors® are held to the same legal standards in terms of principles and practice, but it does subject Realtors® to the enforcement of a set of 17 ethical standards that are strictly governed.

In addition, because Realtors® are active members of the NAR, they are trademarked as such, and may only use the trademark according to the rules and guidelines of the organization.

Otherwise, both real estate agents and Realtors® have gone through the process of getting a real estate license (in West Virginia, this means taking a 90-hour class and passing the state exam), and are regulated by the same state laws.

So hopefully this statement is making a little more sense now. Just because you hold a WV Real Estate License you can’t call yourself a REALTOR because after you pass the state exam you have yet to become a member to carry the REALTOR designation.

II. The NAR Headquartered in Chicago, The National Association of Realtors® is the largest professional association for real estate practitioners. Residential and commercial real estate salespeople, brokers, appraisers, property managers, and other real estate professionals make up the NAR’s membership body.

So what does this all mean? This means AFTER you get your WV Real Estate License you actually have to do MORE to become a REALTOR®. To join, members must complete a course and pass the exam testing them on their understanding of the code of ethics. Every four years after this, Realtors® must take a refresher course. Members join their local board, which gives them automatic membership in the NAR. (WV Real Estate License Professionals will join their local chapter of the West Virginia Association of Realtors: http://www.wvrealtors.com).

One of the many benefits of becoming a Realtor® is the opportunity it provides for continuing education and self-development as a real estate practitioner. The NAR hosts conferences and networking events, all of which enhances an agent’s ability to gain advantage in a competitive industry. And simply by having the Realtor® designation, salespeople benefit from the inherent trust it draws from clients.

III. The Code of Ethics The Code of Ethics was adopted in 1913, and is enforced by a panel of NAR leaders who evaluate complaints involving the conduct of their members in order to take disciplinary action, if necessary. The code is made up of 17 articles each Realtor® pledges to uphold, including duties to clients and customers (articles 1-9), duties to the public (articles 10-14), and duties to Realtors® (articles 15-17).

The code is revised yearly, but one thing that remains arguably the most important is a Realtor’s pledge to treat all parties fairly and honestly. Real estate professionals should always abide by their own intrinsic sense of ethical standards, but in practice it is inevitable that there will be gray areas and blurred lines – this is when a professional code of ethics becomes a beacon to both practitioners and clients.

Overall, getting the Realtor® designation is always a smart consideration. Between the opportunities for growth, networking, and self-development as an individual and a professional, it can be a valuable enhancement to your career. See the NAR’s website for more information: http://www.realtor.org

Whether you’re taking classes at Spruce, the West Virginia Real Estate School, or have been practicing real estate for years, this topic has always been muddy. People will always seem to confuse a REALTOR® and a real estate agent are and use the term synonymously when they are actually very different. Hopefully this write up helped a little. Whether you’re looking to get a WV real estate license or a real estate license in any state the REALTOR designation is a national entity and this info can be applied to your own locality.

The Unique Nature of a West Virginia Real Estate License

Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy. The Greenbrier. International Mother’s Day Shrine. These are all national historic landmarks located in the state of West Virginia, and as such, are as unique to this State as a timber trail in Slanesville, bass fishing on Patterson Creek in Headsville, and the Ruby-throated hummingbird. The same is true for a West Virginia real estate license, which authorizes the holder to list, sell, purchase, exchange, option, rent, manage or lease WV real estate on behalf of others for compensation.

Acquiring the training and education necessary to obtain a real estate broker’s or salesperson’s license can be equal, in importance, to the requirement for obtaining such a license to transact business as a real estate agent in WV. And a well established West Virginia real estate school must always be the essential first step that any aspiring real estate agent could take if s/he expects to achieve success in this very competitive field.

So important is the residency requirement that, each member of the five member West Virginia Real Estate Commission “must have been a resident of this state for at least six years prior to appointment and remain a resident” during the four year appointment term and, with the exception of one citizen member, four members must have been “licensed and practiced in this State as a Broker, Associate Broker or Salesperson as his or her primary vocation for a period of not less than ten years.”

Based on the foregoing it is clear that there’s much more to a career in real estate sales than simply arriving in town, setting up shop – in this case a real estate office – and start soliciting customers. No, a real estate agency requires more of the individual(s) operating it; and it requires more of the entity regulating it which is evidenced by the new criminal background check recently instituted by that entity, the Commission. And since this is true, shouldn’t more also be expected of the school(s) teaching it?

If your first stop on the road to a real estate sales career in WV is a classroom to learn how you could best obtain the prerequisites to such a career, and you are presented with a choice of a West Virginia real estate school with 20 years of hands on experience in the state of WV, or a school which was recently established in the state with less experience and less of a history in the state, your decision would most likely be what is considered a smart one if you utilize the more established learning facility. After all, there is nothing more descriptive of, and unique to West Virginia than the land, all that is attached to it and those whose histories are intertwined with it.

So if you are not fully aware of the three historic landmarks mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s okay! Just know they are distinctly West Virginian in that, Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy was founded in 1848 in Ohio County, West Virginia; The Greenbrier is a Forbes four-star and AAA Five Diamond Award winning luxury resort located just outside the town of White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County, West Virginia; and International Mother’s Day Shrine is a tribute to all mothers housed in Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church (constructed in 1873) located on Main Street in downtown Grafton in Taylor County, West Virginia. Today the church serves as the “mother church” of Mother’s Day.

The distinction of being West Virginian is shared only with other distinctly West Virginian icons, entities, property and citizens of WV; and the real estate brokers, associate brokers and salespersons licensed to transact business in this State, as well as the well-established real estate schools where they obtain their initial training are outstanding examples of the unique West Virginian.

Genuine West Virginia Real Estate School

There are some licenses that empower holders to act in particular capacities wherever in the country and – it can some be said, in the world – they happen to be. Types of Licenses that might grant this authority would include Radio Services Licenses, Software Licenses, International Driver Licenses, Bank Licenses, Federal Firearm Licenses, Pilot and Airline Licenses, plus a number of others which cannot be listed here.

However, the course of study required to obtain an international driver’s license for example must, by the very nature of the licensed permissions, be more encompassing than a state issued license for local use; and the holder of such a license is likewise obligated to adhere to the driving laws, customs and restrictions of the various cities and localities in which s/he operates a vehicle. This obligation therefore is spread over multiple countries, each of which expects as much from the licensee in the form of obeying their laws, as they grant with the issuance of a license to drive.

The same reasoning can be applied to a real estate school that is licensed to offer and teach real estate licensing courses of study and issue certifications of course completion in every state throughout the country, from Alabama to Wyoming, thereby obligating that school to the adherence of real estate licensing laws set forth by each state’s licensing agency. So while this nationwide school has managed to spread or duplicate itself in all fifty states, it can hardly claim undivided loyalty and attention to one.

On the other hand, the genuine West Virginia real estate school designation can only be bestowed upon a genuine West Virginia real estate school. West Virginians might just be more comfortable in knowing that their real estate school instructor understands country living and the West Virginia way of life, and has an established record over an extended period of teaching experience in West Virginia real estate licensing courses. They might like to know that s/he has an innate knowledge of the subject matter and is eager to impart that knowledge to West Virginia real estate license applicants, as well as currently licensed brokers and salespersons via the continuing education courses as required by state law.

A genuine West Virginia real estate school that offers a complete line of approved seven-hour courses in class, as well as live online real estate classes, and is Arello approved for a 90 Hour Pre Sales License Course certainly employs techniques and methods consistent with the most effective and results oriented practices in the industry; and making available the latest technology, tools and resources necessary to insure successful completion of the required real estate licensing courses will certainly benefit West Virginia real estate license applicants.

But most importantly, WV real estate broker and salesperson licensees and those who aspire to be WV real estate broker and salesperson licensees can be comforted in knowing that – all other things being equal – classes offered by the genuine West Virginia Real Estate School are all approved by the West Virginia Real Estate Commission; they are competitively priced and they meet such high standards as the state of WV requires for delivery of education in real estate licensing. So be assured that not every real estate school that sets up shop in WV can be considered a “genuine WV” school.

A real estate broker anywhere, is entrusted with an enormous undertaking and bears the responsibility of handling the sale, management or lease of the single biggest asset most people will ever possess; the property they own. It is for this reason that the real estate broker must acknowledge and accept the fiduciary role and the principle on which it is based: The interest of your client must in all circumstances be placed ahead of your own. Thus the most important reason for well taught real estate licensing and continuing education classes designed to equip real estate licensing students and already licensed professionals with the education they will need in order to adequately meet the challenges which are inherent in protecting their clients interests.

A genuine West Virginia real estate school obviously plays an instrumental role in helping real estate license applicants prepare to meet such a challenge and, as such, might offer more extensive courses of study sufficient to complete such preparation. Such courses of study might include:

Real Estate Agency, Real Estate Brokerage, Listing Agreements, Dual Agency, Real Property and the Law, Transfer of Title, Title Records, Real Estate Financing Principles & Practice, Leases, Property Management, Fair Housing and Ethical Practices, Environmental Issues and Real Estate Transactions, Closing the Real Estate Transaction, Real Estate Math, plus a number of other subjects. There is much to cover in your role as a real estate broker, because there is a lot in the way of client’s interests to protect. Getting the requisite knowledge is your first step toward what promises to be a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Background Checks for WV Real Estate License Become Huge Annoyance

If you’re trying to get a West Virginia Real Estate License and test in November, 2013 you’re probably getting very frustrated.

sample fingerprint
Background checks from Identogo are now mandatory.

It seems that Identogo, the company hired as a third party screener by the West Virginia Real Estate Commission to do background checks on all students hoping to get their West Virginia Real Estate License has had some problems communicating the info to the commission.

Red Tape and Issues

Red tape abounds and getting a West Virginia Real Estate License truly is a lot of paperwork. This most recent hold up is just another frustration for hopeful students hoping to be selling real estate in December.

What does this mean to the hopeful test takers? It means that the WVREC doesn’t have the applications completed in time to test in November. Click to Tweet

What’s most frustrating to many hopeful West Virginia Real Estate License students is although the checks were done on time it was something that was outside of everyone’s control that held up the applications. Identogo, the company in charge of the background checks has yet to comment on the situation. So what are the new guidelines being asked for? As of October 8th, 2013 having a background check accompanying your West Virginia Real Estate License, application is state law.

See details from the source, the WVREC

To brief yourself from the source, here’s the West Virginia Real Estate Commission’s website: https://rec.wv.gov/Forms/Pages/default.aspx

The physical form that you need is located here: WVREC Background Check Form

You will need to make an appointment with this company called Indentogo by calling 855-766-7746 or using their website: https://Identogo.com to register an appointment. The commission isn’t allowing any more testees to test unless a background check is completed beforehand. Let me repeat, YOU WILL NEED TO SUBMIT A BACKGROUND CHECK WITH YOUR APPLICATION.

If you already submitted your application you will STILL need to do this background check in order to test. The background check will be sent electronically to the WVREC by Identogo once it is completed so the form does NOT need to be mailed.

SUMMARY:

1) Make an appointment with Identogo by calling 855-766-7746 or using their website: https://Identogo.com

2) Complete this form: WVREC Background Check Form and take it with you to your appointment

Spruce School of Real Estate prides itself on being your #1 West Virginia Real Estate School. Spruce wants to help with any confusion regarding this new addition to the paperwork in order to get your Real Estate License. We also would like to show some empathy about your anticipated deadlines potentially not being met for this November testing date.

We understand as much as anyone when something beyond your control throws everything off. That is apparently becoming the case here with Identogo and the West Virginia Real Estate Commission not being on the same page when it came to getting everyone filed on time.

Good news is there’s always December. What better gift to give yourself for Christmas than the potential for a new career? Spruce, taking pride as the premier West Virginia Real Estate School, will help any way we can in seeing you get your West Virginia Real Estate License and come December’s test, all of the communication breakdown between the WVREC and Identego should be resolved.

For Sale By Owner. A Licensed Real Estate Agent Might Be Better?

The “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) Challenge: Practical Advice for Agents
I. What is a FSBO?

For Sale by Owner sign
A For Sale By Owner can have negatives a seller might not think of.

A for-sale-by-owner transaction happens when a seller offers his or her property for sale without the assistance of a licensed real estate agent or broker. Usually this is because the seller wants to avoid paying a commission on the sale, but it also means that he or she has to assume all responsibility for completing the transaction without seeking the services of a professional with a real estate license.

II. Understanding the pros and cons

The Pros: Because a licensed agent is not involved in the marketing and selling of the property, sellers reap the financial benefit of retaining the percentage of the sale that would have otherwise been paid to a brokerage. In addition, many sellers enjoy the freedom of handling and marketing the transaction themselves, without the need for interviewing and choosing a licensed agent and brokerage with whom they can feel secure.

The Cons: Without a licensed agent, sellers must become real estate savvy. Pricing a home appropriately requires research and market analysis. An overpriced home can take months longer to sell than expected. An underpriced home devalues neighboring homes and, of course, leaves the seller financially short. And there are several reasons why agents are required to get a real estate license, including understanding the legal and financial risks, and how to best protect the seller through contract negotiation. This alone could be worth hiring a licensed professional.

In addition, agents are businesspeople who thrive on clientele – which means they have close relationships with potential buyers and know their desires in the real estate market. This advantage, along with custom advertising and marketing, can create the exposure needed to sell quickly and for the right price.

III. Approaching a FSBO seller:

For a new agent who has recently received his or her real estate license, FSBOs may seem like the ideal place to start drumming up business. However, be cautious in your approach. Typically, newly licensed agents are so eager to convince sellers to list that they unwittingly wind up using scare tactics: flashing intimidating documents, focusing on financial risks, and warning of the dangers of letting strangers into their home. It’s important to remember that while you may truly be more clever and knowledgeable, it isn’t professional to make a seller feel less so – your job is to empower, not intimidate. Granted, holding a real estate license does make you the expert, but being a straight shooter will garner more trust. FSBO sellers are smart, and they know why you came knocking on their door. They’ll see through intimidation attempts, and you don’t want to be “just another salesperson” in their eyes.

IV. How to be a professional

1. Be straight. Give an honest evaluation of the seller’s FSBO situation, be genuine in your offer to help, and provide authentic resources. Don’t just tell them what you think they need to hear.
2. Be eager, but not overeager. Don’t overwhelm FSBO owners in your effort to convert them. Persuade, don’t coerce.
3. Be flexible. A professional understands when the old adage “always be closing” isn’t appropriate. Sometimes it’s necessary (and professional) to take no for an answer.