Monday, January 30, 2012

Going it Alone: Do You Need an Agent?

It’s 2012. You can find nearly anything and anyone on the Internet. Do you really still need a to put an agent in the middle of your real estate transaction? What’s to stop you from finding a home online, going straight to the source, and saving yourself a few percent on the commission?

Nothing at all. But before you decide to buy or sell a house without an agent, take this to heart: You’ll probably lose money on the deal. A lot of it. We’ll repeat that for emphasis. Even if you save on commission, you’ll probably lose money in the end. Why? For the same reason you don’t represent yourself in court, or fix your own transmission. You’re not an expert.

There’s nothing shameful about that. No one can be an expert in everything. You should certainly educate yourself as much as possible about your market (it’s your house, after all), but you don’t spend all day, every day working in the field. You may have researched comparable homes in your area, but you don’t know what other buyers and sellers are thinking. You don’t know what’s hot, what’s not, and what other opportunities might be steering prices up or down.

A real estate agent is a negotiator who knows the ins and outs of your market. She knows what buttons to push, how to remain objective, and when to move on. She’s also done this dozens of times before, and can guide you through legal and regulatory issues that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. If you’re dealing with a short sale, a foreclosure, a rental unit, or any other property with special guidelines attached, this guidance is critical.

You can certainly buy or sell your own home, but doing so will cost you time, money, and frustration you could save by handing the job to a pro–letting you focus on finding the perfect home.

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