Most people start their home buying search by looking at sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow, or Trulia. That’s a great way to start “shopping” and narrow down your search criteria (# of bedrooms, garage stalls, location, etc.). Once you have a strong sense of what you are looking for and what your timeline is, you are ready for the first step of the homebuying process: hiring a real estate licensee.
How Real Estate Works
Becoming a real estate licensee takes a great deal of perseverance, dedication, and passion. Real estate licensees operate as independent contractors and contract out to their brokerages. As such we are all our own business owners relying on commissions as our income. We do not receive salary or benefits and to compete in today’s marketing world, expenses are high. Knowing this is important, as after many people who get licensed and learn how challenging it is, are forced to find other sources of income. As a result, many real estate licensees work part-time and others work in a referral status; only able to refer clients to other real estate licensees but unable to market themselves. It is good to know if your real estate licensee is acting in a part-time status and only somewhat in-the-know on the current inventory and local economy with lukewarm connections or acting in a full-time status completely in-the-know and up-to-date.
In Alaska, once someone has completed the pre-licensing instruction, passed the State of Alaska Real Estate Commission real estate exam, and contracted with a brokerage, they become licensed and can then refer to themselves as a real estate licensee. Continuing education is required to maintain licenses. Under Alaska terminology it is inaccurate to call licensees agents. A Realtor is a real estate licensee that is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) and has committed to adhere to the Code of Ethics that you, the consumer, should require. You can ensure that a licensee is a Realtor by looking for the NAR logo on their marketing. Real estate licensees in Anchorage are also members of the Alaska Association of REALTORS and the Anchorage Board of REALTORS. Nearly all real estate licensees in Alaska use the Alaska Multiple Listing Service as their primary real estate listing platform.
Anchorage has a small-town feel and has a tight-knit, well-connected community. If you don’t already have a real estate licensee from past transactions or know any, ask around. Most people know one or two. It is recommended that you identify a few and research them thoroughly. You can tell a lot from their online presence such as their marketing style, how they communicate and educate their clients, and how actively engaged they are.
In Anchorage, sitting down for a cup of coffee or at the real estate licensee’s office is the most common way to interview licensees. We recommend that you start with 2-3 licensees. Even if you have used a local licensee in the past it is smart to interview them again and compare them to others who may currently be more active.
Selecting a Real Estate Licensee
First impressions are important. Your real estate licensee should be someone that you like, trust, and inspires confidence from the start. Look for timeliness, professionalism, and organization. Ensure that your Realtor works full-time and is in the know of current property inventory and the real estate industry, has a grasp on the local economy, and has lived in the area for several years.
Beyond these basics you should find someone who is not only great at their job, but someone you can spend a lot of time within person, on the phone, or by email and text. It is important to find someone with experience, customer service and a solid understanding of real estate but also a communication style that is comfortable for you. Your Realtor should be adept at listening, approachable, and responsive within 24 hours. If not, that’s a sign that they may be too busy for you.
At an initial meeting, any Realtor you meet with should present you with initial documents. These are not binding documents in that they do not bind you contractually. You should not be nervous to see them. They are provided by the Alaska State Real Estate Commission and are meant to protect you, the consumer.
The first is the Alaska Real Estate Commission Consumer Disclosure referred to as the AREC and the Waiver of Right to be Represented, if warranted. These two documents are meant to explain to you the duties of the real estate licensee and the relationship between you and the licensee. These documents are required to be signed before a licensee can show you any properties. The Buyer Representation Agreement is optional, but further outlines the duties of the licensee and the duties of the buyer, details regarding compensation, and the length of the representation.
In Alaska, the most common commission for a real estate licensee is 3%. That is 3% to the buyer’s licensee and 3% to the seller’s licensee. These costs are paid by the seller. While they are negotiable, it is important to remember that buying or selling a home is one of the biggest financial transactions you can make. You will want to know that your real estate licensee is 100% committed to providing you their best expertise and service. In addition, take confidence in knowing too that they only get paid when your contract closes creating a win-win for all. Click here for the benefits of working with a Realtor.