So you are thinking about buying or selling a home and are uncertain if a Real Estate Agent is necessary. There is no law that says a Real Estate Agent is required, however why would you want to avail yourself of a professional who has spent their entire career performing these transactions? While doing the work yourself may save you the commission rates, for many, doing it yourself may not be the way to go and could end up being more costly in the long run. Buying or selling a home is a major financial (and emotional) undertaking.
My job as a real estate agent is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers. I have easy access to numerous properties listed by other agents through our MLS system. I know exactly what needs to be done to close the deal. For example, if you are looking to purchase a home, I can track down homes that meet your criteria, contact sellers’ agents and make appointments for you to view homes. If you are buying on your own, you will have to play this telephone tag yourself. This has been proven to be more difficult if you’re shopping for homes that are for sale by owner.
In addition, if you are attempting to sell your home by yourself, you will have to solicit calls from potential buyers, answer questions and make appointments. These potential buyers may or may not even be qualified to purchase your home and ultimately may be a waste of time. Also keep in mind that buyers are likely to move on if you tend to be busy or do not respond quickly enough. Alternatively, you may find yourself making an appointment and rushing home, only to find that no one shows up.
Many people feel that direct negotiations between buyer and seller is more transparent and allows the parties to better look after their own best interests. While this is a great assumption, this is not always an easy relationship. Negotiating Is Tricky Business! For example, what if you, as a buyer, like a home but despise its lime green toilet, red carpet and bright yellow kitchen? If you are working with me, we can discuss how much it will cost to upgrade the home without ever insulting the owner. For all you know, the owner’s late mother may have chosen the décor. I can also convey your concerns to the sellers’ agent placing you in a better position to negotiate a discount without upsetting the homeowner. This is key to preventing hostility between a buyer and seller that can break a deal. Keep in mind that a seller can reject a buyer’s offer for any reason, including just because they do not like you. As an Agent I speak for you in difficult transactions and smooth things over to keep them from getting too personal. This can put you in a better position to get the house you want. This also applies for the seller, who may benefit from an aggressive real estate agent who will represent their interests without turning off potential buyers who want to negotiate price.
Like negotiating, contracts are also very tricky. 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 are not 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 may lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract. As an experienced Real Estate Agent, I deal with these contracts and conditions on a regular basis, and I am extremely familiar with how to use the contract to protect you, whether you’re buying or selling a home.
If you are working with a licensed real estate agent under an agency agreement, your agent will be bound by common law (in most states) to a fiduciary relationship. In other words, the agent is bound by license law to act in their clients’ best interest. In addition, most Real estate Agents rely on referrals and repeat business to build their clientèle. If you do find that your agent has gotten away with lying to you, you will have many avenues for recourse. Such as through your agent’s broker, a Professional Association of Realtors or possibly even in court if you can prove that your agent has failed to uphold his fiduciary duties.
While there are people who may be qualified to sell their own homes, there are still many other criteria in the home buying/selling process. Taking a look at some frequently asked questions on most “for sale by owner” websites suggests the process isn’t as simple as many people assume. When you get into a difficult situation, it can really pay to have a professional on your side. Feel free to call “Your Favorite Realtor” anytime to discuss your home options.