This subject gets pondered a lot, by both buyers and sellers. I want to address it, but I want to disclose upfront that I am a realtor, so my perspective will be somewhat biased.
If you are purchasing a new home, I would always, ALWAYS recommend using the services of a realtor. First of all, and this may be your most important reason, you do not pay for any of the services provided. That’s because the realtors on both sides of the transaction are paid by the seller as part of their Listing Fee.
Beyond any economic reasons, however, a realtor will have access to every property for sale that is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for your area. Simply by providing a few details about what you are looking for and where, a realtor can literally make hundreds of homes available to you for your review (depending on how specific your parameters are). That gives you the chance to review the list from the comfort of your home and weed out those properties that don’t suit your needs. If any questions are raised during your research, your realtor will be the one to track down the answers for you..
When you have narrowed down your selection and have chosen properties you’d actually like to visit, working with a realtor is key. Most sellers that list their home, do so in order to make sure that their home is being shown to „real“ buyers being accompanied by a licensed real estate professional. For convenience, most listings provide for a lockbox or Sentrilock box for secure access to the home. Obtaining the lockbox code will be impossible unless you are a licensed realtor. Homes that are being sold by the owner (FSBO’s) are a different matter and I will get into that later in this post.
The buying process includes a number of steps that a realtor can not only facilitate, but expedite, as well. Once a buyer has decided on a property, the realtor can prepare your offer documents (contracts, addenda, disclosures, etc.) for your signature and present them to the seller. One your offer is accepted, your realtor can guide you through the process to a successful close of escrow. This will include having the home inspected, the attorney review of the contracts and the processing of your mortgage financing. If a buyer doesn’t have access to an attorney, lender or home inspector, a realtor will be able to provide references for those services.
Your realtor can also provide significant help in the negotiating process. They know the current market and can tell you whether the home is priced accordingly. They will also be able to assess the market value of the home based on its condition or any upgrades the seller has made.
From a buyer’s perspective, it only makes sense to utilize the services of a professional as you search for your dream home. This is especially true when you consider that you pay no fee for those services.
As a seller, the decision becomes a bit more complicated. Many sellers are discovering that the market value of their home is not as much as they had hoped and they have to sharpen their pencils in order to break even. When you consider a realtor may charge a listing fee of anywhere from 4-6%, the list of costs to sell your home, after the payoff of your mortgage, can make that break even point difficult to attain.
The advantages to listing your home with a realtor are myriad. They include, but are not limited to, the accurate analysis of your home’s market value, the Open Houses, staging recommendations, signage, Multiple Listing Service inclusion and, most of all, the extensive marketing of the home (THE most important advantage).
If a homeowner decides to sell their home by themselves (FSBO or For Sale By Owner), all these costs are borne by the seller. Obviously, the marketing becomes the most costly item. Putting a For Sale sign in your yard and paying for a 2″ x 2″ ad in your local newspaper will not reach the amount of prospective buyers needed to sell your home in a reasonable amount of time. The speed at which a home is sold is directly proportionate to the amount of buyers that view the home. A realtor’s marketing campaign, if effective, can produce a consistent stream of showings. Showings produce offers and offers lead to successful closings.
In the final analysis, a seller has to look at their net proceeds to determine the viability of listing with a realtor. Even with all the advantages listed above, if a seller has to bring money to the closing table, that will weigh heavily on their decision. Being a realtor, I would always recommend listing your home with one of my esteemed colleagues. However, I am not oblivious to the economic conditions that many homeowners face and many people have successfully sold their homes as a FSBO.
Whatever your decision and whether you are a buyer or seller, there are always going to be obstacles that you must overcome. If you find you can’t seem to navigate these obstacles alone… call your local realtor.