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When you’re selling or buying your home it can be tempting to try and go it alone. Maybe you don’t want to work with a real estate agent to try and save some money, or you just think it won’t make much of a difference. There are a lot of people who do try to sell or buy their homes on their own and when you’re watching the success stories on TV or reading them online it’s easy to think there’s nothing to it.
The truth is there’s a lot that goes into selling and buying a house you may not have considered. Depending on your level of experience with buying and selling homes you may not know even the basics of how things work. Agents do more than just bring in potential buyers and show up to have documents signed. They know all the ins and outs of both buying and selling a house.
A real estate agent's full-time job is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers. This means that he or she will have easy access to all other properties listed by other agents. Both the buyer's and seller's agent work full time as real estate agents and they know what needs to be done to get a deal together. For example, if you are looking to buy a home, a real estate agent will track down homes that meet your criteria, get in touch with sellers' agents and make appointments for you to view the homes. If you are buying on your own, you will have to play this telephone tag yourself. This may be especially difficult if you're shopping for homes that are for sale by owner.
Similarly, if you are looking to sell your home yourself, you will have to solicit calls from interested parties, answer questions and make appointments. Keep in mind that potential buyers are likely to move on if you tend to be busy or don't respond quickly enough. Alternatively, you may find yourself making an appointment and rushing home, only to find that no one shows up.
The things that are extra for you are the day to day life activities of an agent. They do these things multiple times a day and they do them well. They already know how to sell and buy a house, so they’re not learning how to do any of these things on the fly. If you’re already finding yourself busy with life, you definitely need a real estate agent to sell and buy your home.
If you decide to buy or sell a home, the offer to purchase contract is there to protect you and ensure that you are able to back out of the deal if certain conditions aren't met. For example, if you plan to buy a home with a mortgage but you fail to make financing one of the conditions of the sale--and you aren't approved for the mortgage--you can lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract.
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 you, whether you're buying or selling your home.
Many people don't like the idea of doing a real estate deal through an agent and feel that direct negotiation between buyers and sellers is more transparent and allows the parties to better look after their own best interests. This is probably true--assuming that both the buyer and seller in a given transaction are reasonable people who are able to get along. Unfortunately, this isn't always an easy relationship.
What if you, as a buyer, like a home but despise its wood-paneled walls, shag carpet and lurid orange kitchen? If you are working with an agent, you can express your contempt for the current owner's decorating skills and rant about how much it'll cost you to upgrade the home without insulting the owner. For all you know, the owner's late mother may have lovingly chosen the décor. Your real estate agent can convey your concerns to the sellers' agent. Acting as a messenger, the agent may be in a better position to negotiate a discount without ruffling the homeowner's feathers.
A real estate agent can also play the “bad guy” in a transaction, preventing the bad blood between a buyer and seller that can kill a deal. Keep in mind that a seller can reject a potential buyer's offer for any reason--including just because they hate his or her guts. An agent can help by speaking for you in tough transactions and smoothing things over to keep them from getting too personal. This can put you in a better position to get the house you want. The same is true for the seller, who can benefit from a hard-nosed real estate agent who will represent their interests without turning off potential buyers who want to niggle about the price.
Much like the negotiating, pricing your home can be something that’s hard to separate emotion from. You already know how hard you worked to get your home ready for sale, or the work you’ve put in during the past years you’ve owned the house. It’s hard to keep that out of your mind entirely while coming up with a price to list your home at.
Agents can help you because they know the neighborhoods, they know the market, and they know comparable housing prices. All of these things factor into making sure you’re pricing your home effectively. You still have the final say, and a real estate agent can’t force you to list at a certain price but their experience and knowledge should be given proper credit.
An agent can help talk through what you would like to sell the home for, and show you what other homes are selling for right now. If there’s a huge gap in what you want and what the real estate agent thinks is attainable it’s something you can talk about. There might be something you don’t know, or there might be something the agent hasn’t considered for your pricing.
As a team, you can come up with a price together. Again, this gives you someone removed from the situation emotionally that’s still on your side. They still want you to make money on the sale but they are going to have a realistic way of looking at things that you might not have if you’re very attached to your house. This is an invaluable resource to have when trying to make a sale.
Selling your house is not as easy as you might initially think it will be. There are a lot of reasons you’ll want to have a real estate agent on your side. From negotiation to fielding interested buyers there’s just a lot to consider and this is what they do day in and day out.
Hiring an agent to sell your home is likely to take a lot of stress off of your shoulders, and may even get your home listed and sold more quickly potentially being the best decision you make during the entire process.
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 price it based on the sale prices of other comparable properties in your area. Many of these properties will be sold with the help of an agent. This means that the seller gets the keep the percentage of the home's sale price that might otherwise be paid to the real estate agent.
However, buyers who are looking to purchase a home sold by owners may also believe they can save some money on the home by not having an agent involved. They might even expect it and make an offer accordingly. However, unless buyer and seller agree to split the savings, they can't both save the commission.
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.