Should you hire a real estate agent? Well, it’s certainly not required that you use an agent when selling or purchasing a home. In fact, you can sell “for-sale-by-owner” and you can buy on your own from anyone. If you decide to take this do-it-yourself route, a real estate attorney or title company will handle the paperwork and the closing, giving you assistance and guidance once you have found a willing and able buyer or seller and reached a purchase agreement.
You will, however, be on your own for many things including lining up inspections and repairs.
So, what does a real estate agent do for you?
1. Suggest Neighborhoods. Ideally, your agent will ask a lot of questions to find out what you want, your desired location and the price you can afford. Typically, they will also ask for your pre-qualification letter before they begin working with you to ensure you can afford the homes you’ll be previewing. Armed with all that information, a good agent will suggest areas and neighborhoods for you to consider.
2. Find Houses. An agent will comb through the MLS looking for houses that meet your criteria including number of bedrooms and baths. They will present this list to you, contact the listing agents on your behalf and schedule showings of any properties that interest you.
3. View Properties with You. Most agents drive their clients to and from the properties they wish to visit. While there, your agent will use their expertise to point out the good and the bad about the area and the property as you inspect.
4. Determine Values. Once you’ve found properties you’re interested in, your agent will compare those properties to determine the true market value and help you craft an offer acceptable to both you and the seller.
5. Negotiate. When negotiating, the agent will assist you with counter offers and structuring an offer that will be accepted by the seller.
6. Vendors. Most agents have a list of professionals to call on during the buying process such as attorneys, inspectors, appraisers and contractors. The agent will work on your behalf to make sure necessary communication is handled between them.
7. Closing. When your offer has been accepted, there are many more steps before you get to the closing table. A good agent will guide you through inspections and repairs, get contracts to closing attorneys and title companies, make sure documents are signed and presented as needed and, typically, be there with you when you sign the completed transaction.
And, they don’t get paid by the seller unless they get the job done.
So, what have you decided?