5 Reasons You Still Need a Real-Estate Broker
You might think buying or selling on your own will save money, but it could be more costly in the long run.
By Tara Struyk of Investopedia (Edited version)
1. Better access/more convenience A real-estate agent's full-time job is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers. This means that he or she will have easy access to all other properties listed by other agents and will know what needs to be done to get a deal together.
2. Negotiating is tricky business Many people don't like the idea of doing a real-estate deal through an agent and think that direct negotiation between buyers and sellers is more transparent and allows the parties to look after their own interests better. This is probably true — assuming that both the buyer and seller are reasonable people who are able to get along. Unfortunately, this isn't always an easy relationship.
Your real-estate agent can convey your concerns to the seller’s agent. Acting as a messenger, the agent may be in a better position to negotiate a discount without ruffling the homeowner's feathers.
A real-estate agent can also play the “bad guy” in a transaction, preventing the bad blood between a buyer and seller that can kill a deal. Keep in mind that sellers can reject a potential buyer's offer for any reason. An agent can help by speaking for you in tough transactions and smoothing things over to keep them from getting too personal. This can put you in a better position to get the house you want. The same is true for the seller, who can benefit from a hard-nosed real-estate agent who will represent his or her interests.
3. Contracts can be hard to handle 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 aren't 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 can lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract. (Keep in mind that the details of any contract may vary based on state law.)
An experienced real-estate agent deals with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis and is familiar with which conditions should be used, when they can be removed safely and how to use the contract to protect you, whether you're buying or selling your home.
4. Real-estate agents are licensed They are professionals, licensed by the state. There are more repercussions if they misrepresent a property than for a private buyer or seller. If you are working with a licensed real-estate agent under an agency agreement, such as a conventional, full-service commission agreement in which the agent agrees to represent you, your agent will be bound by law to a fiduciary relationship. In other words, the agent is bound by law to act in his clients' best interest, not his own.
In addition, most real-estate agents rely on referrals and repeat business to build the kind of client base they'll need to survive in the business. This means that doing what's best for their clients should be as important to them as any individual sale.
5. Not everyone can save money Many sellers eschew using a real-estate agent in order to avoid paying a commission. This means that the seller gets to keep the percentage of the home's sale price that might otherwise be paid to the real-estate agent.
Buyers who are looking to purchase a home sold by owners may also believe they can save some money on the home by not having an agent involved. They might even expect it and make an offer accordingly. However, unless buyer and seller agree to split the savings, they can't both save the commission.
The bottom line While there are certainly people who are qualified to sell their own homes, taking a quick look at the long list of frequently asked questions on most “for sale by owner” websites suggests the process isn't as simple as many people assume. And when you get into a difficult situation, it can really pay to have a professional on your side.