If you are thinking about buying or selling your home, then skipping the whole “work with an agent” thing has probably crossed your mind. After all, there are plenty of resources these days for both the buyer and the seller, from online search sites to how-to guides, to get by just fine, right? Of course! People opt to list their house as FSBO every day, even if it’s not as simple as everybody makes it seem. However, an agent has something special--they have experience. An agent will work as an advocate on your behalf and--in most cases-- will bend over backward to get you a better deal than you could on your own.
Nobody can tell you what is best for your situation. If you are a first-time home buyer or seller, the help of a trained professional will probably do you good. If you're seasoned (or up for the challenge), FSBO is a realistic option, although it requires more skill and commitment. You have to weigh the pros and cons to decide if you want to call on the help of a real estate agent.
Whether you are buying or selling, a real estate transaction without an agent is a challenge. Selling your home on your own often requires a lot of time and energy. You would need to do many of the tasks that a realtor would traditionally do on your behalf.
One of the things an agent takes care of when listing your house is to place it on the Multiple Listing Services (MLS). The MLS is where real estate agents who are searching for properties on behalf of their clients look first. No joke, the MLS is the go-to, number one, online real estate hub for listing information. It is normal for agents only to show homes that are listed on MLS because they know there will be another agent there for them to negotiate with, rather than having to deal with an unknown, non-professional seller. That does not mean that newspapers and classified ads are not successful selling homes, because they definitely can be. It is just that there is a particular advantage to having an MLS listing.
What is At Stake?
The business of real estate is complicated. It is full of loads of paperwork that requires expert negotiations. There are often small problems which, if left undetected, can quickly blow up into proportions so immense that it jeopardizes your entire transaction. You don't want to end up going to court because of a miswritten contract. The most important responsibility of a real estate agent is to keep contracts and other legal matters in line. No one wants to go through all the hassle of listing and selling his or her home to find out that he or she did not read the fine print--all that work for the sale to fall through right before the closing.
Real estate agents generally have a more realistic idea of what a home is worth and good agents are adept at getting that price. Most agents are in the business full-time, so they acquire knowledge and experience every day. They know how to navigate the financial aspect, negotiate and stay grounded in highly emotional or stressful situations. This is where you want to have a positive experience, so be careful to ask your agent how long they have been in the business. An inexperienced agent may not be able to help you much more than you could have helped yourself.
Selecting an Agent
Not all agents are created equal. So it can be a challenge to find a good agent whose interests are in line with yours. When you consider selling your house, the first thing you should do is ask friend and co-workers for referrals. Referrals from other professionals tend to carry much weight. Referred clients usually receive a high level of service because more referrals are riding on them doing a good job. If you are looking for the perfect real estate agent, you probably won't find them. Ultimately, you want an agent who is knowledgeable, dedicated, and who has no conflict of interest.
Choosing the right agent for you is as important as deciding to have an agent at all. Even great real estate agents are inexperienced when it comes to some property types. So, if you have a particular kind of property, such as a condo, you may want a seasoned agent who has experience buying or selling that type of property. The agent is sure to understand how and when to market the house, and will probably be more successful at finding potential buyers.
The Bottom Line
There are drawbacks to having to rely on someone else. However, a good agent is worth your time unless you have the time, energy, education, and experience to sell your own home. For first time buyers or sellers, do not enter the rough waters of real estate on your own. Hire an agent to help you navigate the transaction. It will prime you for the day you choose to sell a property without the help of an agent.
Finding a good agent may involve some false starts. If you go through referrals and set your terms, however, you should see that the commission you pay is money well spent, even if it does scrape some cash from your bottom line.
After you have bought a few homes and are used to the process, you might believe you do not need to hire your agent to buy another house. That is until something goes terribly wrong! Besides, you’ll find that agents working exclusively with first-time homebuyers tend to get a great deal of personal satisfaction in providing outstanding customer service and making their buyer’s dreams come true. These are good qualities in an agent.
Buying or selling a house can get sticky, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s why we created Clever. Clever helps you find a local, flat fee full-service agent who has experience in your market. Call us today at 1-833-2-CLEVER or fill out our online form to get started.