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 don't trust real estate agents and don't really understand what an agent does that they can't do for themselves while saving money. Agents are either despised or loved, depending on how successful they are at serving their clients.

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

Do You Need a Real Estate 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 The National Association of Realtors® (NAR), almost 22% more. Much depends on the real estate market.

In a seller's market, almost anybody can put up a Home for Sale sign and attract offers. That's because buyers are eager to buy and busily waving earnest money deposits in the air. In this situation, be prepared to handle multiple offers. You should also be prepared to handle a possible lawsuit, extract money from a buyer, get through a home inspection, and close a deal. 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.

Real Estate 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 interior 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 every day. Services most listing agents offer to sellers include:

  • Marketing materials and proven selling systems
  • Professional virtual tours and photography
  • Wide internet exposure
  • Promotion at company meetings and multiple listing service (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.

There are several services you can expect to receive 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 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, then you may choose to work without an agent. But you might always wonder whether you paid too much or accepted too low of a price.