Atlanta Real Estate FAQs

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about real estate in Atlanta, real estate agents and real estate transactions!

Atlanta Real Estate FAQs

What’s the benefit of using an agent to buy or sell Atlanta real estate?

The most important thing your agent does for you is give you professional guidance about how much a given house is really worth. This can help you avoid paying too much for a house.  You might worry that the agent has a conflict of interest, since they typically get paid 3% of the sales price, and so the more you pay for the house, the more the agent makes.  In reality this is not so much an issue, because inflating the price a lot would net an agent only a little extra commission.  (For example, inflating the sale price by $10,000 would net the agent only $300 extra.)  Additionally, once you sign an agreement with a real estate agent, they are legally deemed to be a fiduciary to you, the buyer.

Next, an agent can help you negotiate the price.  In fact, they’ll make a recommendation to you as to how much you should offer, and whatever price you agree to, the agent will then handle all the negotiations themselves, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty.

Finally, an agent can guide you through the contract, and make sure you’re not getting ripped off on closing costs.

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What’s the difference between agents, brokers, and realtors?

The nuances between these terms isn’t terribly important, and if you like you can skip this section. Whoever represents you or the seller, you can refer to them as “agents” and be safe. If you’d like to know the details, keep reading.

All real estate sales people are agents. They’re licensed to represent either buyers or sellers in property transactions. There are three different types of agents:

  • Regular agents: They have no additional training or professional memberships.
  • Brokers: They generally have more education and training than regular agents. But they’re still also an agent.
  • Realtors: These are agents who have spent extra time and money on training and belong to a special professional association of agents.

A common mistake is to refer to all agents as Realtors, but actually it’s the other way around:  all Realtors are agents, but not all agents are Realtors.  Note that a broker can be an individual or a company.  Often, an agent works for a broker.

When shopping for an agent, it’s not important to look for one kind of agent over another.  In theory brokers and realtors might have more skill than regular agents, but it really depends on the particular agent in question.  When shopping for an agent, pay more attention to good referrals and trusted reviews from places like Angie’s List.

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