What is the difference between a real estate agent and a real estate broker?

Most states require real estate sales professionals to be licensed by the state, so that they can control education and experience requirements and have a central
authority to resolve consumer problems.
The terminology used to identify real estate professionals varies a little from state to state.  Brokers are generally required to have more education and experience than
real estate salespersons or agents.
The person you normally deal with is a real estate agent or salesperson.  The salesperson is licensed by the state, but must work for a broker.  All listings are placed in
the broker's name, not the salesperson's.
A broker can deal directly with home buyers and sellers, or can have a staff of salespersons or agents working for him or her.

Why should I use a real estate salesperson?

A real estate salesperson is more than just a "sales person." They act on your behalf as your agent, providing you with advice and guidance and doing a job - helping
you buy or sell a home. While it is true they get paid for what they do, so do other professions that provide advice, guidance, and have a service to sell --such as Certified
Public Accountants and Attorneys
The Internet has opened up a world of information that wasn't previously available to homebuyers and seller. The data on listings available for sale is almost current -
but not quite. There are times when you need the most current information about what has sold or is for sale, and the only way to get that is with an agent.
If you're selling a home, you gain access to the most buyers by being listed in the Multiple Listing Service. Only a licensed real estate agent who is a member of your
local MLS can get you listed there - which then gets you automatically listed on some of the major real estate web sites. If you're buying or selling a home, the MLS is
your agent's best tool.
However, the role of an agent has changed in the last couple of years. In the past, agents were the only way home buyers and sellers could access information. Now
agents are evolving. Because today's home buyers and sellers are so much better informed than in the past, expertise and ability are becoming more important.
The real estate agent is becoming more of a "guide" than a "salesperson" -- your personal representative in buying or selling a home.

What is a buyers agent, what does this specifically do for a buyer and who usually pays this "buyers agent"?

On most transactions, there is usually a listing agent and a selling agent. The selling agent is sometimes referred to in media as the buyer's agent, because he works
on the buyer's behalf and it easier than explaining each time that the "selling agent" is not the listing agent and is actually the buyer's agent.
See, if a buyer goes directly to the listing agent, they are dealing with an agent that has conflicting responsibilities. Their job is to get a good price for the seller and they
may not zealously represent the interests of the buyer.

I looked at a property yesterday with a realtor who quite obviously has no clue what he is doing. I really want to purchase that house, but don't want the hassle of
working with an agent who doesn't know his business. Can I switch agents and still buy that house?

If you want to purchase that property, the only ethical thing is to purchase it through that Realtor. Otherwise, you could set up potential conflicts between your previous
agent and whatever new agent you may choose.
You see, if your previous agent finds out you purchased the home with a new agent, he may want to claim all or a portion of you new agent's commission.  This could
develop into a "battle royale" involving real estate agents, offices, managers, brokers, and attorneys.

My house recently went into escrow that was supposed to last 60 days. One week before closing we were notified by the real estate agent that the house did not
appraise for the amount agreed upon in the sales contract. The buyers are refusing to obtain another mortgage company or another appraisal at my cost. Do they
forfeit their 2500.00 that is in escrow to me, or is it a technicality and they get their money back?

First, look at your purchase contract. Most Realtors put deadlines in the contract during which certain things must occur, such as appraisal or loan approval. Review the
contract to see if they lived up to those types of terms in the contract. Second, press to find out why it took 55 days to get an appraisal. This just seems wrong. Request
the name and phone number of the appraiser so your agent can make inquiries.
You’re probably not being given the true reason for cancellation.
Escrow normally cannot release the deposit money without the permission of both sides. Continue to press until you feel you are being given the real reasons for not
closing the transaction.
Keep in mind that if you are asking for legal advice, that can only be obtained from a lawyer.

I agreed to buy a house and now I’ve changed my mind. How do I cancel?
This may not be the answer you were expecting...
For the answer to this, you have to look at your contract. The contract is the legal agreement you have made with the seller. Most contracts have certain contingencies
where a cancellation is acceptable. To cancel for reasons other than that, there are often consequences and such a decision should not be taken lightly.
Keep in mind that while you have been preparing to close the transaction, the seller has taken his home off the market and may have entered his own contract to
purchase a home. This can create a chain of sales and purchases, all depending on you to fulfill your obligation. If you do not fulfill the contract, your decision may affect
many more people than just one seller.
For the legal consequences of canceling a contract, you may have to consult an attorney.

The buyer now wants out of the contract to buy my home. The contract has been signed by both parties. What are my rights, and do I have to keep my home?

When people break contracts, you can't generally force them to go through with the transaction. What you can do, if you can prove damages, is try to recover the
damages in court or through arbitration.
You can attempt to talk to the buyers and find out what the problem is and try to resolve it. It may be something easily you can easily resolve, but maybe not.

Can you negotiate the price of a bank owned home?

Everything in real estate is negotiable. However, banks are more sophisticated about pricing than they were years ago. So those "Get a great deal on a foreclosure!"
days aren't what they used to be. Lowball offers generally don't go very far.

What is a lease option?

This basically means you are leasing or renting a property with an option to buy it at a future date. The future price of the property should be fixed at the time the lease-
option is signed.
Usually there is an up-front payment of some amount to purchase the option. The amount can vary. Sometimes the monthly payment is larger than normal and the
excess is used to purchase the option. In some cases, the option money can be applied toward the down payment for the later purchase of the home.
Lease-options are usually done during a slow real estate market. During a hot market, the seller can simply sell the home in the regular manner.
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