Angie’s List: Do I need a real estate agent?
Buying or selling a home can be a daunting task. But doing so without a real estate agent can be even more so. After all, the job of a real estate agent is to cover the many details involved to ensure you’re getting the best possible outcome in your new home purchase or home sale.
Agents bring a number of advantages. They have a vested interest in giving you the best customer service possible, as many depend on referrals and references to grow their customer base. And they also have a deep knowledge of the local real estate market and their ear to the ground about potential new listings and buyers. Further, since they handle scheduling, negotiations and other details, it frees your time to focus on the other aspects of your move and minimizes the risk of disagreements between you and the other party.
Using a buyer's agent
A homebuyer should consider a few key factors before soliciting the help of a buyer’s agent:
— Is the agent available to meet at a time that is convenient for you? And, does their style of communicating match up with your own? When interviewing an agent, be sure to ask how they prefer to communicate and how they plan to make time in their schedule for showing you homes.
— Are they able to explain the market conditions, what they do to structure a contract in the most competitive way, and how they plan to help you find your new home? If they’re not able to answer these three basic questions, it may be time to interview the next agent.
— Is the agent associated with a realty company that has resources to support and assist you with your transaction? And are they dedicated to putting those resources to work to get you what you’re looking for?
— Finally, ask the agent for references of recent buyers or sellers they have represented. Ask the referenced buyers questions about the negotiations, the closing of the deal, and what, if anything, they had to give up in the negotiations.
Do I really need an an agent to sell?
It’s certainly possible to post that “For Sale by Owner” sign out in front of your house and handle the details yourself. But ask any professional and they’ll point out that the real estate industry wouldn’t exist if selling a home were easy.
First, ask yourself why you’re considering not hiring an agent. Is it simply to avoid paying a commission? Before you make a decision, be sure to weight those savings against the increased profits a qualified agent may be able to generate.
If you decide to move forward on your own, you can still pay a flat fee to have your property appear on the Multiple Listing Service used by real estate agents. More than half of recent home buyers still used the MLS in their property search, so that’s an important resource to use to market your home. Consider hiring a home inspector and appraiser before listing the property to identify potential issues and help manage expectations. You should also have a lawyer go over your paperwork.