Realtors are a paid go-between who represents the interests of either the seller or the buyer in a real estate transaction. It is a fiduciary relationship that is defined by law. On a more personal level, the Realtor oftentimes provides a number of ancillary services---such as referrals to mortgage brokers or home insurers---to their clients. Learning about the job description of a Realtor truly opens your eyes to the many facets this career opportunity holds.
A Realtor may act as a buyer-broker who assists an interested party in the purchase of a piece of real estate. Conversely, she may be the listing agent who works with the seller in an effort to sell the real estate. There has been the development of a third type, the dual agent who represents both parties, but because of the potential for conflicts of interest and lengthy litigation, Realtors generally stay away from this kind of work.
The initial definition of the Realtor and client relationship determines the scope of the work the professional will perform. It is also significant in that it characterizes the extent of the relationship between the parties with respect to loyalty, confidentiality and also exclusivity, if desired.
When the Realtor functions as the buyer-broker, she performs various tasks that help her clients purchase the home of their dreams. She will locate available pieces of real estate that match her clients' parameters with respect to size, cost and location; she schedules appointments with the sellers or sellers' agents to view the properties; she assists with the preparation of an offer and is instrumental in the negotiation process of the final purchase price. Many times she also functions a bit as a reassuring entity that helps the buyers make it through the rather trying times of waiting to see if an offer is accepted or rejected.
The Realtor who works on behalf of the seller assists the person with selling a piece of real estate. She will help the seller prepare the property to show it off in its best light; she will take photos and create fliers that advertise the property; she will list the real estate on the Multiple Listing Service and in print as well as online; she places a "for sale" sign on the property and possibly holds an open house to allow a large number of interested parties to take a look; she will make herself available---if needed---to open up a property for potential individual buyers to view; she presents offers to the seller and then assists with the negotiations for a final selling price; she also helps sellers reconsider a sale price if the property does not move quickly enough.
It is a common misconception that a Realtor and her client have a mere business relationship. Instead, Realtors quite frequently end up on the client's speed dial when problems in the transaction occur and the person needs reassurance or to simply vent some frustration. At times the Realtor will suggest a personally known cleaning service or gardener to help the client with a property that needs to be shaped up to be sold. Realtors also help a fearful client apply for that first mortgage by setting up an appointment with a mortgage broker who is known to get results. In short, if you are thinking of becoming a Realtor, you will be much more than just a real estate professional; you will also have a personal relationship with your clients that is part and parcel of the customer service you provide.