There have been a number of services pop up in the last few years to help homebuyers and sellers complete their own real estate transactions. While it may seem this DIY approach might help save on the commission rates real estate agents charge, for many, flying solo could actually end up being more costly than the agent’s commission in the long run. If you’re thinking of selling your home, here are five really good reasons you really do need a real estate agent.
1. More Access/More Convenience
Our job as a real estate agent is to act a liaison between buyers and sellers. Our job is also to keep ourselves available to handle virtually any situation. This means we “handle it for you.” If you’re looking to sell your home yourself you’ll have to handle all the calls yourself from interested parties (buyers, agents, curiosity seekers, etc.). You’ll also have to answer all the questions and make all the appointments. If you’re too busy or don’t respond quickly enough buyers will move on. Or you may make an appointment and rush home, only to find no one shows up. You’ll have to do all your own advertising and marketing. You’ll also have to do your own photography. Trust us: it’s a lot of work and stress when you try to do all this yourself.
2. Negotiating Is Tricky Business
Sometimes people don’t like the idea of doing a real estate deal through an agent. They feel direct negotiations between sellers and prospective buyers is more transparent and that it allows the parties to better look after their own best interests. Well, that would be nice EXCEPT it rarely turns out that way. Plus, the buyer likely has someone representing them; an agent who’s trained and skilled in negotiating real estate. No matter how good you think you are at negotiating, this will put you at a disadvantage.
Besides, what if both parties aren’t reasonable people? Or can’t get along? Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy time in a real estate transaction and tensions can escalate. A real estate agent can act as a “relief valve” and help the deal move forward – which is what you ultimately want. Sometimes the agent can be the “bad guy” when needed, preventing the bad blood between a buyer and seller that can kill a deal.
A buyer may make you an offer. But what if it’s too low? You’ll make a counter-offer (you do know how, right?). But keep in mind that a buyer can reject your counter-offer for any reason–including just because they hate your guts. An agent can help by speaking for you in tough transactions and smoothing things over to keep them from getting too personal. As a seller you can benefit from a hard-nosed real estate agent who will represent your interests without turning off potential buyers who want to niggle about the price or other things.
3. Contracts Can Be Hard To Handle
If you decide sell your home, purchase and sale contract is there to protect you during the transaction. It spells out what conditions have to be met to go forward with the deal and under what conditions a buyer can back out.
Unless you have a lot of real estate contract experience, you really need an agent helping you steer through these contingencies. An experienced real estate agent deals with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis, and is familiar with which conditions should be used, when they can safely be removed and how to use the contract to protect your best interests. Plus, we’ve seen a lot of contract situations come and go. We’re more readily able to give you advice on how to handle situations that pop up based on those experiences.
4. Real Estate Agents Can’t Lie
Well, OK, actually they can. But because they are licensed professionals there are more repercussions if they do than for a private buyer or seller. If you are working with a licensed real estate agent under an agency agreement, (i.e., a conventional, full-service commission agreement in which the agent agrees to represent you), your agent will be bound by common law (in most states) to a fiduciary relationship. In other words, the agent is bound by license law to act in their clients’ best interest (not his or her own).
In addition, we rely on referrals and repeat business to build the kind of clientele base we need to survive in the business. This means that doing what’s best for their clients should be as important to us as any individual sale.
When a buyer and seller work together directly, they can (and should) seek legal counsel, but because each is expected to act in his or her best interest, there isn’t much you can do if you find out later that you’ve been duped in some way by the buyer. And having a lawyer on retainer any time you want to talk about potentially buying or selling a house could cost far more than an agent’s commissions by the time the transaction is complete.
5. Not Everyone Can Save Money
Many people eschew using a real estate agent to save money, but keep in mind that it is unlikely that both the buyer and seller will reap the benefits of not having to pay commissions. For example, if you are selling your home on your own, you will likely try to price it based on what you think your home is worth. Statistically, you’re extremely likely to over-price it. But we agents use much more data to derive the value of homes and make pricing recommendations.
Additionally, most of the homes sold in the area (the best barometer of home values) were sold by great agents who marketed the heck out of these homes to get the most money they could for their sellers. Do you have the time, money and resources to market your home like they did? Probably not.
If you try to sell your home yourself you won’t be able to list it on the local Multi-Listing Services. So, you’ll miss out on reaching hundreds of agents with buyer clients. Why would you automatically and deliberately eliminate your home from so many potential buyers? After all, isn’t the goal to sell it?
The Bottom Line?
While there are certainly people who are qualified to sell their own homes, taking a quick look at the long list of frequently asked questions on most for-sale-by-owner websites suggests the process isn’t as simple as many people assume. And when you get into a difficult situation, it can really pay to have a professional on your side.
If you want to have us by your side, let us know! We’d love to work with you on your next real estate transaction.