Buying or selling a home, whether it's your first or tenth time, is stressful. There are viewings to schedule, terms to negotiate, all while following various laws and codes. A good real estate agent can help clear the confusion and make sure that deal makes it to closing.
If you're selling
Many homeowners are tempted to try to save money instead of paying the real estate agent's commission. However, it's important to remember that this isn't free cash, there will be a lot of things you'll have to do yourself.
- Getting your home on the MLS: Homes that aren't listed with an agent do not make it on the MLS, or Multiple Listing Service. This service contains every home for sale, period. All agents use this service to help their buyers find the right property quickly. However, if your home isn't listed with an agent, it will not be put on the MLS. Instead, you'll have to advertise on your own.
- Save your time Real estate agents have a job for a reason; selling a house is a full-time job. Sure, you can advertise, schedule showings, and create the necessary contracts all yourself, but most people just don't have that kind of time.
- Negotiation skills A good agent will be a master of negotiation. What you need to consider is if you trust yourself, your knowledge of your local and broader real estate market, and your ability to barter. Odds are that these skills are lacking and you need to hire an agent.
If you're buying
Despite the fact that a real estate agent's commission is paid for by the seller, many home buyers still choose to go through this process alone. Considering how much experience an agent will bring to the process, it really doesn't make sense to pass up on what is essentially free advice.
- An advocate When buying a house, you can opt to work with a "buyers agent." This is a real estate agent who will work legally on your behalf. In other words, the agent will be required, by law, to do their best to negotiate all terms for your best benefit.
- Market knowledge Do you know the average listing and selling prices of homes in your price range over the past three months, six months, and one year? Do you know what local, state, and federal laws apply? Do you know what bank offers the loan which best fits your needs? A good real estate agent will be able to answer all of these questions for you.
- Getting to closing Getting from viewing a house to actually signing the closing papers isn't an easy process. There are hundreds of things that can go wrong and kill the deal: missed deadlines, a low appraisal, problems found during an inspection, and more. A good agent will be able to navigate all these small issues and keep the deal together.