NAR Code of Ethics: Your duties to the client

When a South Carolina real estate licensee joins the National Association of Realtors, he or she voluntarily agrees to abide by a certain code of ethics in the real estate industry. The code contains various articles and accepted procedural operations that form the backbone of ethical behavior when representing clients in real estate transactions.

Numerous articles within the NAR Code of Ethics directly pertain to the relationship between sales agents and clients. As a member of the NAR, you agree that you have certain duties to fulfill regarding interactions in which you engage in a professional capacity with real estate customers. Unfortunately, surveys consistently show that real estate agents are among professionals whom the general public is least likely to trust. Conducting yourself according to a standardized code of ethics may help improve the public’s perception.

Always keep these client-related duties in mind

The following list includes numerous duties that are reflected in the NAR Code of Ethics regarding interactions between real estate licensees and clients or customers:

  • As an agent, you should always do your best to protect and promote your client’s interests in the home sale/purchase process.
  • You must also act with fairness to anyone else involved in the process.
  • Ethical behavior includes cooperating with other licensees as they protect and promote their clients’ interests.
  • You should only receive compensation from one party unless full disclosure and consent has been secured.
  • Make sure all contract details are placed in writing and that all parties of interest receive copies.
  • Never exaggerate, misrepresent or conceal relevant features or facts associated with a particular home for sale.

This list provides examples of the articles listed in the NAR Code of Ethics, which pertain to the relationship between an agent and clients or customers.

NAR members also have duties toward the public and toward other realtors

As a South Carolina real estate agent who has become a member of the NAR, you would also agree to uphold certain ethics and duties that relate to the general public and to other realtors. As you continue your education after earning a license to sell homes, it’s a good idea to take classes that focus on ethics.

Your reputation can either make or break your success in the real estate industry. While one of the duties realtors have toward other realtors is to only make truthful and objective comments about fellow licensees, your professional behavior will definitely begin to precede you. If you act with integrity at all times, you will gain the trust of your colleagues and clients alike, which is a key attribute to building a profitable real estate business.

4 real estate curb appeal busters to avoid

From either side of a home sale—whether you’re a listing agent or buyers’ agent— the exterior appearance of a house that has been placed on the market is going to be a selling point or an impediment to your ability to secure a closing. Nowadays, most prospective home buyers begin their real estate searches online, which means that the first views they have of a home are provided through photographic images.

Many people will also drive by a house that has caught their interest to catch a glimpse of it in person before deciding whether to schedule a showing. These are some of the reasons why curb appeal is so important. If buyers don’t like what they see in online images or passing by the exterior of a home, they’ll never want to look inside. There are several curb appeal mistakes that can keep your selling client from getting offers or your buying client from wanting to negotiate a deal.

House in visible need of repair

It’s not necessarily a deal breaker for a home that is for sale to have a few flaws or need a little bit of work here or there. Such issues are often incorporated into a contingency contract. However, if the exterior of a home is in visible need of repair (think, hanging gutters, broken steps, roof that is worn, peeling paint, etc.) it’s likely to deter more offers than it gains.

Sometimes, a seller might be listing a house ‘as is’, which means that buyers understand that they will be responsible for any repairs or renovations that are needed. If that’s not the case, however, it’s best to avoid the curb appeal buster of visible disrepair.

Additional curb appeal busters that deter real estate offers

Besides disrepair, the following list includes other issues that might be present on the exterior of a home for sale that can make it sit on the market longer than necessary:

  • Hard surfaces like driveway or sidewalks full of cracks, pot holes, overgrown weeds, etc.
  • Garbage or other clutter and debris lying around the property
  • A yard full of weeds, unmown grass and untrimmed trees

Each of these issues has the potential to deter buyers. If someone arrives to see tall grass, weeds and trees hanging dangerously close to a roof, the first impression might be that the home requires too much maintenance. And if there’s a lot of debris or garbage on the outside, buyers might assume the interior of the home is the same.

Sales agents often speak to each other after a showing

If you’re working as a listing agent, you can learn a lot about what might be deterring offers on a particular home by speaking with a buyer’s agent who has shown the home. Don’t be surprised if the issues mentioned in this post or other curb appeal busters are part of the problem.

If you’re a buyer’s agent, and you find that lack of curb appeal is an issue that is keeping your clients from wanting to make an offer on a home, you might consider mentioning the issues to the listing agent. Overall, curb appeal is a valuable selling point that helps real estate agents on both sides of a home sale. The nicer a home’s exterior is, the greater a chance there will be that people will want to tour the inside and, perhaps, make an offer!

Using sandwich board signs in real estate

Nowadays, most home buyers begin their searches online. If you’re a listing agent, however, focusing all of your efforts toward online marketing might cause you to overlook the valuable resource of strategically placed sandwich board signs on your clients’ property. There are several benefits to using this type of signage in real estate.

There’s a difference between simply plunking a generic “for sale” sign in a yard and displaying a well-designed sandwich board sign to attract attention. In fact, the type of in-person signage you choose to advertise your client’s home can either help generate leads or largely go unnoticed by passersby.

A well-designed, strategically-placed sign draws attention

If your goal is to become a profitable listing agent in South Carolina, you’ll want to use sandwich board signage to your advantage. As mentioned earlier, home searches today usually begin online, which is why quality photographs and well-written property descriptions are imperative to real estate sales success. However, a well-designed, strategically-placed sandwich board sign can attract a lot of local attention as well as create visibility to outsiders who are driving through the neighborhood to “check it out” as a possibility for relocation.

Sandwich board signs are typically conspicuous because of their unique shape and structure. They naturally draw attention from those who are walking or driving by.

Sandwich board signs can help establish your brand

Building a strong brand is a key to real estate sales success. Using a particular color theme, font style, profile image, etc., in all of your marketing campaigns is one way to make your brand familiar at a glance. You can incorporate these ideas into a sandwich board sign, which not only advertises a home for sale but also advertises your real estate business.

Think of it this way. Someone might be passing by who is not necessarily looking for a home in the area but, perhaps, has a home that he or she needs to sell. If you do a good job establishing your brand and providing contact information for your business, the sign you use to advertise a listing might garner you some new clients as well.

Neighbors might know someone who’s in the market for a home

Another benefit of quality signage might be that you install a sign across the street or in the same neighborhood of someone who has a relative or friend who is in the market for a home. The neighbor will see your sign and tell the buyer, “There’s a home for sale in my neighborhood.”

Information to include on a sandwich board sign

Make sure your signs include your company name as well as your email address and phone number. You might include your website address, the logo of the brokerage you partner with (if applicable) and/or your QR code.

For sale signs come in many styles, including sandwich board signs, which you can use as a valuable marketing tool in your real estate business.

Why listing agents should use feature sheets

After you obtain your license to sell homes in South Carolina, you’re always going to be looking for ways to generate leads, get offers and secure closings. It’s that simple. These will be primary goals in your career, and you can tap into many resources to help accomplish them. As a listing agent, you’ll undoubtedly make use of the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) system.

Within the MLS system, there are tools you can use to make your clients’ offers stand out from the rest, to catch attention and, hopefully, acquire interest for showings. One such tool is known as a “feature sheet.” MLS posts have built-in formats to enter useful information for potential buyers. Creating a feature sheet, however, helps you to highlight features in your seller’s home, which can refine the overview of the property in a more personal, detailed way.

Things to include or omit in a feature sheet

When you incorporate a feature sheet into an MLS post, you’ll want to include specific categories or features in the home. It’s important to know what NOT to include as well. For instance, a feature sheet is not the place to list major repairs that have been done on the home. Such information is best left for property disclosure forms. You also want to omit any type of special feature or item that does not convey with the home sale.

The following list shows numerous highlights that should be included on a feature sheet:

  • Renovations or remodeling that has been done in the past six months
  • New flooring
  • Any interior or exterior surface that has been freshly painted
  • Landscape upgrades
  • Upgrades that are not immediately noticeable, such as under cabinet lighting or shower heads and fixtures, etc.

Keep the 6-month time frame in mind. Even if there’s a feature that your client loves about his or her home, if it’s outdated, it’s typically best to omit it from a feature sheet.

Divide a feature sheet into home area sections

If you list everything all at once in a feature sheet, the page may appear cluttered, and a potential buyer will be more likely to just skim over the content, perhaps missing key details. To avoid this, use white space strategically and keep a feature page organized by using headers to highlight various areas of the home, such as:

  • Exterior
  • Entry ways
  • Garage
  • Basement
  • Laundry room
  • Outdoor living spaces
  • Roof
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Master rooms
  • First floor, second floor, etc.

Under each subtitle, list all of the updates and special features that you wish to highlight, such as new appliances under the kitchen section or a new floor, door or windows in an entryway. Take time to read over a feature sheet as if you were a potential buyer and re-organize or refine it as needed. Learning how to use a feature sheet to your client’s advantage can help you boost showings, which is a key factor to become a profitable listing agent.

4 real estate careers besides sales

Perhaps you’ve been working as a real estate agent for a handful of years now, or you haven’t yet broken into the industry but are considering it. Either way, it’s helpful to know that selling houses (I.e., being a real estate agent) isn’t the only way to earn an income in the South Carolina real estate industry. In fact, there are at least four other occupations that might interest you, especially if you don’t think you’re cut out for direct selling.

Each type of real estate job has its own license or certification requirements. It’s important to carefully research each category, so that you know what to expect if you decide to venture into a particular niche. Each of the four jobs mentioned in this post require a certain amount of pre-license education as well. You’ll also want to look into what type of curriculum and programs the real estate schools in your area have to offer.

Property management might be the real estate career for you

Even if you don’t particularly care for the idea of selling houses, you might still be a “people person” who enjoys interacting with others during the course of an average day on the job. If you also have good management skills, including the ability to perform executive duties in an organized fashion, as well as problem-solving and negotiation skills, you might be interested in learning more about the property management side of the real estate industry.

As a real estate property manager, your duties typically include things such as filling vacancies in a rental property, collecting rent, addressing requests for maintenance and other issues. In short, you would manage property for an owner who either lives too far away to take care of such issues or simply does not want to focus his or her time and effort on direct management of a property.

You can be a home inspector or home appraiser

Two more aspects of the real estate industry that don’t involve direct sells are home inspections and home appraisals. Both are integral components to the home purchase process. If you prefer to work independently and not have as much direct contact with clients, this type of career might suit you better than sales or management.

If you’ve been an agent long enough, you can obtain a broker license

While all real estate brokers are licensed agents, not all real estate agents are licensed brokers. A broker oversees the transactions of sales and purchase activities on a home. As a broker, you would have a higher level of real estate education than a licensed sales agent. You would also earn a commission on every sale that closes through the agents working in your brokerage.

Look into South Carolina real estate laws before choosing a career

Each of these career options is available to those in South Carolina who want to work in the real estate industry but don’t want to be directly involved in listing homes or acting as a buyer’s agent. It’s important to learn more about the education and license requirements of each career before determining which might be the best fit for you.

Issues that will likely be important to your buyers

When you start selling homes in South Carolina, you’re going to meet a lot of people throughout the course of an average work week. In fact, if you’re a “people person,” the idea of crossing paths with lots of people, different personalities, needs and goals, etc., might be part of what attracted you to the real estate industry. It’s only natural that you’ll want to help your clients make their home-purchase dreams a reality.

It’s imperative for you to be knowledgeable about various features on the properties you’ll be showing to your clients. Of course, if someone asks a question that you don’t have an answer for, you can tell him or her that you will do your best to find out, then tap into any and all available local resources to find the answer. There are certain features and issues that are usually quite important to a potential buyer.

Location is always at the top of the list for home buyers

If you’re working with a buyer, he or she may undoubtedly place a lot of importance on a particular home’s location. The more you learn ahead of time about the surrounding area of a home you plan to show, the better. Buyers will want to know things like how accessible a home is to the nearest interstate, what the crime rate is in a neighborhood or information about local schools.

Age of a home may be a factor for many buyers

As you become more experienced in the real estate industry, you’ll find that the age of a home is a key feature that’s important to many buyers. Some people prefer to live in older homes, especially if they are artistic. They might want a home with older architecture or brick or a classic-style front porch or attic. People who purchase homes with the intention of renovating, then “flipping,” or re-selling are often interested in buying older homes.

For other buyers, a home older than 10 years might not be of any interest to them at all. These buyers like all things to be modern. Such buyers might only want to take a look at an older home, if other key issues, such as location, price, local conveniences, etc., make it worth their while.

How much maintenance with the home and property require?

If your client is retired and looking to down-size and slow down in life, he or she might not be interested in touring homes that require a lot of maintenance. A person in this stage of life might want to buy a home in a community where yard maintenance is taken care of by professionals.

As for the interior of a house, some homes simply need a lot more attention and work than others. You might have clients who don’t mind making repairs or upgrades on a home. There will likely be others, however, who want to stay as far away from maintenance as they can.

Be prepared to discuss these and other issues

In addition to the issues mentioned in this post, the buyers you work with will be interested in numerous other features or topics when searching for a home to purchase. Always be prepared to discuss things like square footage of living space, floor layouts, appliances, number of bedrooms and more.

If you establish yourself as a go-to for information on the houses you show, you increase the chances that your clients will be satisfied with your service and may even go on to give you referrals when their friends or family members are in the market for a new home.