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The reality of being a Realtor

Scott Breidenbach works with Fargo's Park Co. Realtors and serves as the 2009 president of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of Realtors

FARGO - Scott Breidenbach was working in property management when his employer sent him to a real estate class.

"I instantly loved it. I knew that was the direction I needed to go," said Breidenbach, a real estate agent since 2001.

Today, Breidenbach works with Fargo's Park Co. Realtors and serves as the 2009 president of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of Realtors.

The association has 518 agent-members. It also has 175 affiliate members and 101 affiliate companies that provide services to Realtors.

The metro housing market slipped in 2008 from the previous year.

According to association numbers, 2,948 single-family homes were sold at an average price of $153,395 in 2008, compared with 3,529 and $156,322 in 2007.

But 2008 metro home sales were strong by historical standards.

In 2002, for instance, 2,795 houses were sold at an average price of $116,225.

Q: It's sometimes said that a minority of Realtors sell most of the houses. Is that true?

A: It is: 20 percent of the Realtors sell 80 percent of the homes.

In your business, you have some folks who work part time and some who work full time?

Some agents put in 80 hours a week, some put in eight. It's all over the road.

What does the Realtor designation mean?

You have to have a number of courses and take a code of ethics.

It's part of an organization that's held to a higher standard.

A real estate agent can sell real estate, but not every real estate agent is a Realtor.

Your members work on both sides of the Red River?

Yes. There's reciprocity between North Dakota and Minnesota.

What skills or traits help people in your profession succeed?

It's a sales business. You need to be outgoing, not scared of rejection.

But I've also heard that introverts are interesting for this job because they listen a little better.

Are there any misperceptions about your business?

People have to get to know their agent and trust that they're working on their behalf.

The respect level isn't as high as we would like it to be. It's not all about the money. Many times people think it's all about that, and it's not. It's an industry that offers freedom as far as individual agents not punching a clock.

What's the multiple listing service that Realtors use?

It's set up so that no matter what company or who you work for, we can work together in a co-op sale.

So if a Park Co. agent lists a house and an Advantage agent wants to sell that, they have all the rates and the opportunity to do so.

Although we all work independently, we all need each other to conduct our business.

Interest rates are pretty low by historical standards. How are you trying to take advantage of that?

I've encouraged every Realtor I know to get on the phone and start calling their customers and say, "You know, rates are so low. Please take advantage of refinancing, if you have an opportunity to do so and it works out with your specific criteria. Otherwise, if you're looking to buy, now's an excellent opportunity."

What's the most common method of selecting a real estate agent? Referrals?

Absolutely. Checking with your friends and relatives and asking them who they've had a good experience with.