Do You Need to Work With a Real Estate Agent?

Real estate agent giving a family keys to their new house
••• Bernd Vogel / Getty Images

Some people, for their own reasons, don't trust real estate agents and don't really understand what an agent brings to the table that they can't do for themselves. It's an understandable reaction, as it's a polarizing subject. Agents are either despised or loved. They earn an A or an F on their closing report card – there is rarely a C on performance in this business.

Some buyers and sellers could manage very well on their own. An A-rated agent doesn't can bring added value to the transaction, but for some consumers, an agent is not always completely necessary. It depends how much money you want to make. Generally you make more selling with an agent. Here is how you can tell.

Do You Need a Listing Agent to Sell Your Home?

As a seller, you can find your own buyer. But an agent may be able to help you net more on your bottom line – according to NAR, almost 22% more. Much depends on the real estate market.

In super hot seller markets, almost anybody can stick a sign in the yard and attract offers. That's because buyers are falling all over themselves to buy and waving earnest money deposits in the air. Have you extensive experience handling multiple offers yourself? Will you get sued? Do you know how to extract more money from buyers? Will you get through the home inspection? Will you close?

In buyer's markets, there are fewer buyers, which makes an agent's services worth even more.

More than 80% of buyers purchase a home through a real estate agent. If you don't hire an agent, you could be losing exposure to 80% of the buying population.

Listing Agents Can Bring Added-Value to a Transaction

Unless you routinely attend every open house in your neighborhood, you may not possess intimate information about the interiors of your neighbor's homes nor know why some sold for higher prices than others. Experienced agents have this knowledge and use it to position your home to sell at the highest possible price.

Top listing agents sell homes day in and day out. Here is a list of services most listing agents offer to sellers:

  • Marketing materials and proven selling systems.
  • Professional virtual tours and photography.
  • Wide internet exposure.
  • Promotion at company meetings and MLS meetings.
  • Networking with fellow real estate agents.
  • Price guidance according to market data and recent sales.
  • Home stagers, inspector and repair contractor referrals.
  • Buyer feedback and private showings.
  • Confirmation of potential buyer qualifications.
  • Counter offer and negotiation expertise, especially with multiple offers.
  • Guidance to get past the home inspection without making repairs.
  • Suggestions for dealing with low appraisals.

Buyer's Agents Work for the Buyer and Not the Seller

Done correctly, a buyer's agent's job is to put the buyer's interests ahead of the agent's, to disclose all material facts, keep the buyer's information confidential, provide the buyer with sufficient information to purchase a home and expertly negotiate on the buyer's behalf.

Here are some of the services you can expect to get from a buyer's agent that you might not be able to obtain on your own. Apart from hearing about listings before homes are available to the public, agents can:

  • Provide comparable sales from the tax rolls.
  • Provide sales data from MLS based on map searches.
  • Pull property profiles reflecting sales history, property data, demographics and neighborhood services.
  • Obtain a copy of the home's historical documents.
  • Run reports on listing agent's list-price to sales-price ratios.
  • Calculate annual facts and trends about an area.
  • Suggest pricing strategy.
  • Prepare a strong offer that presents the buyer in the best light based on market demands and agent interaction / networking.
  • Review of documents for loopholes and obtain disclosures.
  • Provide a buffer between you and the seller's agent.

If you feel competent that you can handle a sale or purchase on your own, maybe you can. But you might always wonder whether you paid too much or accepted too low of a price.