Who's Who in Real Estate?

There are many players involved to put a real estate deal together and take it from contract to closing. Familiarize yourself with each of these players so that you can expertly guide your clients and customers through the buying or selling process.

Appraisers

A professional who estimates the value of a home to be purchased. In the purchase of a home, the appraiser is usually hired by the mortgage lender to determine whether the price paid is in line with fair market value and therefore justifies the mortgage amount.

Buyer’s Attorney

A real estate attorney who represents the buyer(s) in a real estate transaction.

Buyer’s Representative

You’re a buyer’s representative if you have a contractual relationship with a buyer to help the buyer purchase a home.

Client

People with whom you’ve established a contractual relationship to represent them in the buying or selling of a home.

Customer

Buyers and sellers you do not represent but whom you assist in the purchase or sale of a home.

Home Inspector

Most purchase contracts allow a buyer to have a home inspected within five days of signing the purchase contract. A home inspector performs an inspection of the home to be purchased on behalf of the buyers in the transaction. The inspector examines the home for structural soundness and identifies recommended repairs in his or her report. Depending on the area of the country where you sell, common practice may include other types of inspections, including a termite inspection and a radon inspection.

Insurance Agent

A person who sells insurance policies, such as homeowners’ and automobile insurance. Typically, homebuyers need to show proof of homeowners’ insurance before or at the time of closing on the purchased property. Without this, some closings can’t move forward as planned. If you represent buyers, make sure they have secured a homeowners’ policy prior to closing.

Loan Officer

An employee of a mortgage lender who helps borrowers secure financing for a home purchase.

Mortgage Broker

An independent contractor who helps bring borrowers and lenders together by originating residential and/or commercial loans offered by multiple wholesale lenders.

Mortgage Lender

A mortgage loan company that originates, services, and sells loans to investors or purchasers.

Seller’s Agent

You’re a seller’s representative if you have a contractual relationship with a seller to help sell a home (also often known as “listing agent”).

Seller’s Attorney

A real estate attorney who represents the seller(s) in a real estate transaction.

Surveyor

Usually on land deals, this person takes a legal description of the property and maps out the exact boundaries. The legal description in many cases refers to physical landmarks. Those landmarks can change over time—and there may be unintentional or intentional encroachment by neighbors over time. Neighbors may have even been given permission, for example, to put a driveway on a neighbor’s property, but when the house is sold, the driveway can become a point of contention.

Title Companies

Once the purchase contract on a property is completed, terms are agreed upon, and financing arrangements have been made, the lender orders a title search of the property to be purchased. Depending on the region, a title company or practicing attorney can conduct this search. A title search is the examination of public records to determine that the person selling the property has the right to sell it and the buyer is getting all the rights to the property. The title search seeks to uncover any liens or other problems with the title. The title company then works to fix any problems with the title before issuing lender’s title insurance, or the loan policy. The loan policy protects the lender’s interests in the property. Buyers also may obtain an owner’s policy to protect their interests. In some parts of the country, the seller would purchase the owner’s title policy for the buyer—in effect telling them the house they are buying has a clear title. In other areas, the buyer must obtain the owner’s policy on his/her own. It’s a matter of custom so ask your local title professional how it’s handled in your area.

Transaction Broker

Also called a “facilitator” or “statutory broker” in some states, these terms refer to real estate professionals who enter into a nonagency relationship with their clients that is governed by statutorily-defined duties. The statutorily-defined duties of a transaction broker replace the common-law agency principles that otherwise govern the relationship between a practitioner and a client and impose a fiduciary duty—or heightened legal duty—upon the real estate professional who is in an agency relationship with a client.

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.