Real Estate Agent FAQ

FAQ About Realtors® And Real Estate Agents for Buyers

Are you looking for homes for sale in Portland Oregon? Curious about Portland real estate agents and what is their job? Are you wondering about how to best use a real estate agent? Check out these FAQ about real estate I’ve answered many times in the 25 years I’ve been a Realtor® in Portland.

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Real Estate Agency Disclosure

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What is a real estate agent?

Real estate agents show you the way

When you’re ready to buy a home in Portland, you need a guide.–someone who is totally on your side to guide you through the process, help you avoid making mistakes, and make this huge home buying undertaking as stress-free as possible. That’s what an agent does for you.

A real estate agent works in her client’s best interest within the confines of the law. She guides you, advises you, and gives you access to the best information so you can make good decisions.

Oregon Real Estate Agency Disclosure Pamphlet describes a real estate agency relationship as “a voluntary legal relationship in which a real estate licensee (the “agent”) agrees to act on behalf of a buyer or a seller (the “client”) in a real estate transaction.” Back To Top


Why do I need an agent? Can’t I just look on-line at homes on the MLS?

You can, however buying a home could well be the biggest purchase of your life so far. The average home in Portland costs well over $200,000. If you had a $200,000 tax problem you’d hire a CPA. If you had a $200,000 legal problem, you’d want the help of an attorney. To purchase a home, you should also have an experience professional on your team. Back to top


Does a real estate agent represent the buyer or the seller?

That’s a very good question—and one to which you should always know the answer before you talk seriously with a real estate agent. For the nitty-gritty of real estate agency, I refer you to the Oregon Real Estate Agency Disclosure Pamphlet.

In general, a listing agent represents the seller. Any information you give her may be used to the seller’s advantage in negotiation. She can represent both seller and buyer, but this must be done in writing and signed by both buyer and seller. So if you’re talking to a listing agent and you haven’t signed an agency agreement, the agent is not working for you.

A real estate agent who is not representing a seller can become your agent by signed agreement or just by her actions. (To represent only one party, no agreement need be signed until an offer is written.) If you and she agree that she is your agent, she may only represent you unless you agree in writing that she may also represent another party in the transaction. Back to top


How much does a real estate agent cost me in buying a home?

Many people wonder, “How are Realtors paid?”. Here’s the good news. When you’re buying Portland real estate (or anywhere in Oregon) the fees for both the buyers’ and sellers’ agents are generally paid by the seller. When sellers list their homes in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they agree to pay for the services of their agent and the agent who represents the buyer for their home. Although there are a lot of costs involved in buying a home, paying for your real estate guide is not one of them. Back to top


Do I need my own agent? Why not just call listing agents of homes I want to see?

Wouldn’t you rather have an expert working totally on your behalf? The listing agent already has an agency relationship with the seller. (See Does a real estate agent represent the buyer or the seller? above.) That agent could remain working only for the seller while she shows you the home or she could work for both buyer and seller in a limited capacity. But you wouldn’t want your attorney working for the other party in a legal dispute. And you wouldn’t use the IRS’s accountant for a tax audit. For buying your home you should have your own agent in most cases. Back to top


Why do I need just one agent? Shouldn’t I have several working for me at once?

Do you want your agent’s full attention? Give her your loyalty (and exclusivity).

Portland real estate agents only get paid for results. At the closing of a successful transaction we are paid for the hours of time and expertise we bring to a home buying experience. If there is no closing, or another agent writes up the actual offer to purchase a home, we are not paid. It doesn’t matter how many hours we have worked with a home buyer.

If you as a buyer of Portland real estate are loyal to one agent, she will focus more of her time on you.Back to top


What is a Realtor® and why should I use one?

The difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent

A Realtor® is even better than an agent. (And this is why I am proud to be a Realtor®.) As a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a Realtor® is a licensed real estate agent who subscribes to a strict code of ethics including:

(a) agreeing to treat all parties to a transaction honestly and fairly;

(b) practicing real estate only in the type of property, service, or location where the agent has competency.

You can expect Realtors® to maintain a higher level of knowledge about buying and selling property. We Realtors® are held to a higher standard. Isn’t that who you’d want to guide you through the home buying process?

Here are a dozen reasons to use a Realtor® (from the National Association of Realtors):

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR “®” logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84 percent of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.


1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power — that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders — banks and mortgage companies — offer limited choices.

2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.

3. Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

4. Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

6. Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.

7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

8. When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50 percent of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

10. Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

11. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing — a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).

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Real Estate Agency Disclosure

Download our PDF of Real Estate Agency Disclosure Information