When to Bring the Broker into Your Home Sale

By Eric Tyson, Ray Brown

When you select a real-estate agent, your agent’s broker is part of the package. If your purchase rolls merrily along, you may never meet the broker. But if a truly nasty problem rears its ugly head, guess who you can turn to for a quick fix? Brokers are the invisible grease in problematic transactions.

All states issue two markedly different types of real estate licenses: one for salespeople (agents) and one for brokers. Agents who have broker’s licenses must satisfy much more stringent educational and experience standards than agents with only a salesperson’s license.

Your agent may have either type of license. Broker’s licensees have the option either to operate independently or to work for another broker. An agent who has a salesperson’s license, on the other hand, must work under a broker’s direct supervision, ensuring that you have access to the broker’s higher level of expertise if you need it.

The broker’s image, good or bad, will be obvious from comments that you hear while checking agent references. You want the buyer, lender, and all other people involved in your transaction working with you because of your broker’s reputation, not in spite of it. You shouldn’t have to overcome guilt by association. If an agent’s references disparage the agent’s broker, dump the agent.

Good brokers develop and maintain relationships with the people with whom their offices deal — other brokers, lenders, title officers, city officials, and the like. This reservoir of good will is yours to use if the going gets rough. Brokers with strong business relationships can work near-miracles for you in a crisis.

House sales sometimes become highly emotional. If your life savings are on the line, you may lash out at other players. Someone must handle the resulting quarrels and misunderstandings. That someone is the broker. Because the broker participates directly or indirectly in every deal the office handles, your broker’s practical experience is directly related to the number of agents in the office. A broker who manages a 25-agent office, for example, gets 25 years of real estate experience per calendar year. Any broker who can survive five years of handling all the office’s gut-wrenching messes becomes a superb problem solver out of sheer necessity.

Call your broker into the game if your agent is stymied by a tough problem or if you’re having problems with the agent. Everything an agent does or fails to do is ultimately the broker’s responsibility. After all, the broker’s job is to help make your problems go away.