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realtor open house Real estate companies specialize in several different fields, such as appraisals, brokerages, relocation, development, and property management.  Real estate appraisers offer professional property valuation services.  Real estate brokers assist real estate sellers to market their properties and assist real estate buyers to find properties that meet their needs.  Real estate developers focus on building residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and infrastructures.  Property management firms provide maintenance, security, landscaping, cleaning, and other services for property owners.  Relocation firms help relocate people or businesses to new locations in the same country or internationally.

In the following real estate company glossary, you can learn about these real estate specialties in greater detail, and find out how each type of real estate company can benefit real estate owners, buyers, and sellers.

Real Estate Company Glossary

In even the simplest real estate transaction, you may have to deal with a number of different real estate-related companies:
  • Real Estate Appraisers:  An appraiser will conduct an independent, unbiased valuation of the property.  In addition to the valuation (the appraised value), the appraisal also includes a written explanation of how the valuation was determined (most often it is based on an analysis of comparable recent sales of similar properties nearby).
  • Builders/developers:  If you are buying a property from another owner, you may not even ever know who developed the area and built the property.  Or you may buy from the builder (in a residential subdivision, for example) or from a developer (in a residential condo building or commercial building).
  • Home inspectors:  A home inspector will conduct an independent, unbiased review, this time of the structural and mechanical condition of the property.  Anytime you buy a residential property (with the exception, perhaps, of a new home being sold by the builder) you should hire a home inspector.  You never know what problems may be lurking behind the walls or in the attic.
  • Mortgage lenders/brokers:  Unless you're buying a property with cash (perhaps from the sale of your previous property), you'll have to borrow money from a mortgage lender.  You can either go directly to the lender (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, CitiMortgage, etc.) or you can go through a broker, who will set up the mortgage for you with a lender, but will also charge you a fee.
  • Property management firms provide maintenance, security, landscaping, cleaning, and other services for property owners.  If you are going to be renting out properties, you'll have to hire a property management company, unless you want to take care of all the management details yourself.
  • Real estate agents:  If you're buying a property from another owner, you'll likely have your own real estate agent (the buyer's agent) and the seller with have his own agent (the seller's agent).  (If you are buying from a builder or developer, you'll likely have an agent but the developer may not.)  Real estate agents are often confused with realtors; they're not the same.  A real estate agent is a person licensed to negotiate and execute the sale of real estate.  A realtor is a real estate agent or broker that has been licensed by the National Association of Realtors and holds an active Association membership.
  • Relocation firms help relocate people or businesses to new locations in the same country or internationally; once you have bought or sold the property, now you have to move all your stuff!
  • Title companies:  The title company will inspect and insure the title (deed) to the real property.  Before a title can be released, the title company must run a search to ensure that there are no outstanding liens on the property.
real estate collage features information about, and directories of, residential real estate franchises and commercial real estate brokers in the United States, plus a selection of helpful real estate resources for consumers.  Whether you are buying or selling a home, developing or managing an apartment complex, or involved with commercial real estate in some way, you will be working with these types of real estate-related companies.  If your interests lie more in the real estate investing arena, be sure to read this article about real estate investment trusts.


  • Crook, D. (2006).  Complete Real Estate Investing Book.  New York:  Three Rivers Press.
  • Fisher, S. (2007).  The Commercial Real Estate Investor's Handbook.  Ocala, Florida:  Atlantic Publishing Group.
  • Jacobus, C. (2009).  Real Estate Principles (Eleventh Edition).  Mason, Ohio:  Cengage Learning.
  • Kein, L. (2007).  The Fundamentals of Listing and Selling Commercial Real Estate.  West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania:  Infinity Publishing.
  • Miles, M. E., Barens, G., and Weiss, M. A. (2007).  Real Estate Development:  Principles and Process.  Washington, DC:  Urban Land Institute.

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