Do You Really Need a Real Estate Agent?
Do you really need a real estate agent to buy or sell your house? I’d love to say a resounding YES! But, there are no absolutes in life and it all depends on you (wait…isn’t that an absolute?).
Okay how about this…we each have our own unique beliefs, life experiences, work experiences, social experience, habits, philosophies, personalities…and real estate related experience.
Maybe you have what it takes to sell and buy real estate without an agent. But, in case you’re wondering if you should or should not hire an agent, I hope this blog helps.
Can You Do Real Estate On Your Own?
How much experience and/or exposure have you had with Real Estate that could help you do it on your own?
Do you keep up with Real Estate Market Trends?
Have you ever bought or sold a home?
Did you ever take any real estate courses in college?
Did you dabble in some Real Estate Courses, seminars, or workshops?
Did you parents do Real Estate?
Does your cousin’s, boyfriend’s aunt do real estate? (haha)
Do you flip houses?
Do you love HGTV and all the Real Estate televisions shows on there?
Are you good at negotiating without being adversarial and condescending?
Are you organized and able to keep on top of deadlines that could make or break a real estate transaction?
Do you know about all the costs associated with buying a house? How about with selling a house?
If you're selling your house, are you able to be there during business hours to let potential buyers and/or their Realtors in your house for showings?
I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you.
There are many, many benefits to hiring a good Real Estate Agent to represent you throughout a real estate transaction. But like with other career fields, some agents have given us a bad reputation. It’s not only beneficial to hire a Real Estate Agent to help you, it’s even more important to find an agent that:
- you connect with,
- that will put your needs first,
- that will be honest with you while explaining everything to you,
- that has the time for you,
- that keeps up with real estate laws and the market, and
- that does not see you as merely a paycheck.
First Off, What is a Real Estate Agent? What is a Realtors®?
According the Merriam-Webster.com, a real estate agent – working on behalf of a licensed real estate broker, is a licensed professional who works on behalf of the buyer and seller of real estate during a sales transaction.
Real Estate Agents are also known as Real Estate Salesperson and sometimes people even call them Realtors®. But, is a Realtor® the same thing as a Real Estate Agent?-Nope.
Even though the titles “real estate agent” and “Realtor®” are often used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. Both are licensed to sell real estate, but there are significant distinctions between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor.
All Realtor's are Real Estate Agents, but not all Real Estate Agents are Realtors.
What’s the difference between a REALTOR® and a Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent is anyone who is licensed to help people buy and sell commercial or residential property. The agent may do so as a sales professional, an associate broker, or a broker.
A REALTOR® is a licensed Real Estate Agent that is regulated by the National Association of REALTORS® (aka - NAR) and subscribes to a strict Code of Ethics. A real estate agent is not regulated by the NAR.
will help you stay on top of your deadlines, which are extremely important and can even make or break your whole "deal" (ie: home inspection, loan approval, WDO, contingencies, binding insurance…and more).
predicts problems ahead of time and take care of them so that they never impact their clients.
put your interests above their own
use their knowledge and skills to help you in every way that they can. One of the ways that REALTORS® help consumers is by simplifying the process. If a REALTOR® told you everything that they do behind the scenes, you would get exhausted listening to them. You would be bored half way through as well.
do A LOT of researching, coordinating, communicating, and planning behind the scenes
will make the home buying and selling process feel easy
will shield you from the internal drama involved with negotiations, inspections, mortgage issues, title issues, and so on.
The Importance and Benefits of Having a Real Estate Agent
Licensed real estate agents are trained to handle all aspects of a real estate transaction and to represent the best interest of the buyer or seller. A Real Estate Agent is your most valuable asset when buying or selling a home.
In my opinion, the 3 most important responsibilities that you Real Estate Agent has is to:
- walk you through every part of the home buying or selling process,
- educate and inform you of all your options, and
- negotiate for you and represent you throughout the transaction and beyond.
Having someone “represent” you means that you can sit back and direct them as you choose during negotiations. It’s much easier to make important real estate decisions when you don’t have to deal with the stress and emotion of delivering the information.
What I may consider a good real estate agent to be, might not be what you consider them to be. There are all different types of agents out there, it’s up to you to find the one that best fits your needs. However, I believe that a good agent does and is the following, but not limited to:
is immersed in real estate,
loves to work with people,
follows a code of ethics,
wakes up each morning and one of the first things they do is check the MLS Hot Sheet to see what new properties have come on the market and see if any of them fit their clients’ needs and wants.
A good Real Estate Agent follows their area’s market trends and market summary.
they know whether it’s a buyers’ market, a sellers’ market, or a normal (neutral/balanced) market,
they have access to current housing inventory, property prices, and average days on market for their area,
- they have a good idea of the values of properties in their area, and when they don’t, they jump on the opportunity to do some research and find out,
Successful Real Estate Agents continually study the Real Estate Contract. They deal with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis, and are familiar with which contingencies (aka 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. Selling and buying a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents.
Your real estate agent will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
Real Estate Jargon
Also, there’s a lot of Real Estate Jargon involved throughout the real estate transaction, so having a Real Estate Agent represent you can protect you from terms, actions…things you may not quite understand. There’s a lot of legal jargon and important paperwork that has to be 100% correct.
Agents and their legal counterparts have what is called errors and omissions insurance to protect themselves from any mistakes.
- For example, a For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) does not usually know enough about the industry to obtain this type of insurance, and sometimes isn’t even able to as an individual entity.
- And if you don’t have the insurance, and you do make an error, like not disclosing important repairs that you were legally required to report to the buyer, what could happen? The new homeowner more than likely may wage a civil lawsuit against the FSBO seller.
Quality Real Estate Agents know how to negotiate. There are many factors up for discussion in a real estate deal. A Real Estate Agent will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement (offer) that allows you the flexibility you need to take that next step.
Your real estate agent should know you…they should understand your financial, familial, work, and social position and know how to build the offer around that to support you.
- For example, your real estate agent should know you have to move out of state by such and such date and need to sell at this price in order to come out on top. Your agent should keep that information confidential, but also go to bat for you and do everything they can ethically to serve you best.
An effective Real Estate Agent should continuously negotiate with other agents or self-represented buyers (or sellers) throughout the transaction. And your real estate agent will be particularly helpful if the potential buyer or seller on the other side is extremely difficult or demanding. You shouldn't have to deal with any of the nastiness!
Real Estate Agents know how to market, but they do a whole helluva lot more. Your house is not going to sell due to advertising alone. Sticking a sign outside, posting on social media about it, and praying are not going to bring the buyers alone.
A significant portion of real estate sales results from the Real Estate Agent’s contacts with previous clients, friends, and family. Yes, they will advertise via Social Media, they’ll do open houses, pass out flyers, send emails, and list the property on the MLS, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc. But they have a whole slew of other resources in their back pockets.
Functional Real Estate Agents are masters of their calendar. There is A LOT that needs to get done after the seller and buyer sign the contract, and most of these items have deadlines. Home Inspections, Appraisal, WDO’s (Wood Destroying Organisms Inspection), finding and binding homeowners insurance, home warranties, the list goes on. Your agent will “hold your hand” throughout the whole process and stay on track so that you can close on time.
A Few Extras...
A worthy Realtor ® will keep abreast of the Real Estate Laws, Rules, Regulations and live by their Real Estate Code of Ethics. They continue to learn as much as they can in the Real Estate field. They continue to take Real Estate courses, classes, workshops, and seminars. They constantly read books, blogs, and articles on Real Estate and the home market. They need to be your Real Estate Expert!
The Bottom Line - Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent?
I know some people think “But I’ll Save Money If I Don’t Hire a Real Estate Agent”. I think the MAJOR reason that people do not want to hire Real Estate Agents is because of agent's commission. Plus, we don’t really have the best reputation as aforementioned.
Many people avoid using a real estate agent to save money…fair enough; we all work hard for our money. You might think you’re guaranteed to save yourself money by not hiring a real estate agent, but that’s not true.
- If you’re the seller, you might be underpricing your home – a Real Estate Agent does comprehensive market research to come up with a price range. Plus you may agree to certain contingencies and/or to pay for certain closings costs that an Agent would negotiate on your behalf for.
- If you’re the buyer you may be paying too much for your home or agreeing to pay certain closing costs you had no idea about.
Also, it’s very likely that it will cost you money during the real estate buying or selling process because of all of the potential pitfalls that you’re not even aware of. There are multiple points in a real estate transaction where making the right decision, or knowing what to look for will save you thousands of dollars; a real estate agents know this.
In today’s era of Do-It-Yourself and all the Go-Getters we have out there (you guys rock!), you might still think you can do it on your own without a Real Estate Agent. And that’s fine. That’s what makes our world so great…endless opportunity.
- However, just because I can google how to change the carburetor on my Toyota 4Runner doesn’t mean I’m going to do it myself; I’ll hire a professional mechanic because I want quality service, product, and a stress free experience. Plus I don’t want to have to worry about the aftermath what-if’s.
So instead of asking yourself "Do I Really Need a Real Estate Agent", maybe ask yourself "Can I Really Afford Not to Hire a Real Estate Agent" when buying or selling your home. Do not focus on the commission so much as being able to buy or sell your property. You do not want to step over dollars trying to save pennies.
~Kellie Graebner, Realtor with Jan Hooks Real Estate Group, Inc. – firstname.lastname@example.org or #850.218.8738
If you’re looking to buy or sell your home in the Niceville, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Navarre, Destin, San Destin, Mirimar, Santa Rosa, or 30A area, give us a shout. We would love to see if we are a good fit to work together and what we can do for you!