Why You Should Work with a Realtor Instead of Going It Alone
Buying or selling a house is often the largest financial decision you will make in your lifetime. With all the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) online options available, it can be tempting to want to go it alone. In competitive housing markets, however, a realtor is the most valuable tool you can use.
While most people buy or sell one to two houses in their lives, realtors engage in those transactions every single day. They visit hundreds of thousands of homes, talk to hundreds of buyers and sellers, and sit on both sides of the table dozens of times a year. They know how to negotiate with other agents, anticipate and solve problems, and most importantly, get the best deal for you, their client.
Realtors Are the Experts
A good realtor is highly familiar with the local housing market. He or she has a good sense of what a fair price looks like, what time of year the listings will pick up, and what neighborhoods are most desirable. While it’s easy to browse properties online, many listing aggregators use algorithms to predict prices that may not actually reflect what’s realistic for the area. A buyer working with a realtor has access to a much larger listing database—called the Multiple Listing Service(MLS)—that may include properties that haven’t yet made it to the aggregators and that can help coordinate multiple showings with different sellers and selling agents. A selling agent’s (or listing agent’s) access to the MLS is important, too. They are able to list houses for clients in the database, ensuring that their property is visible to other agents and buyers.
Realtors are skilled in negotiation and navigating a complicated system to the benefit of their clients. Realtors will be up to date on the local ordinances, laws, and contract requirements, which change frequently. Missing a small but important step can cost you thousands of dollars, but realtors are able to walk their clients through the nitty-gritty details and ensure that all the right boxes are checked. They’re on the lookout for common problems and know the appropriate actions to resolve issues quickly and fairly.
Realtors Bring Perspective to an Emotional Process
Because home-buying is such a heavily-weighted, sensitive process, realtors can lend an impartial voice of reason. When you’re selling your family’s first house, you see more than walls and rooms—the house is a home that holds memories and feelings—and you may think it’s worth more than the market would really dictate. But to the buyers, that piece of property won’t become a home until they move in, and they want to get a fair price.
A realtor can help you see more clearly that houses are products, and while there is always a human element to the process, it can be easier to have someone who isn’t as attached emotionally negotiating offers and settlements. They can also remind clients that flooring can be changed and cabinets can be painted — but also that a great house in a poor location can’t be moved. Realtors offer advice that homeowners and buyers wrapped up in such a stressful process can sometimes overlook.
Realtors Are a Priceless Asset
For a buyer, working with a realtor can often cost nothing out of pocket. In most cases, realtor fees are paid for by the seller exclusively—and buyers should be wary of agents that charge otherwise. A buyer may think that forgoing those fees might allow the seller to lower the listing price, but for all the benefits a realtor provides, the fee (often 2-6% of the final home price) is a small price to pay. And sellers often have more to lose by not working with an agent. While they are paying the actual fee, the risk of missing out on the right price, timing, and the best buyer can cost the seller thousands of dollars.
Realtors have your best interests in mind and want to make sure that you receive a fair price and have a good experience. In such an important, expensive, and emotional process, having a trusted advocate in your corner is invaluable.