It is easy to think that buying a home is something that can be done without a real estate agent. After all, we live in the information age and have access to all the current listings (we think). Examples of purchase contracts can be found with a quick Google search and county assessors provide online access to plat maps, ownership and tax information. What more could a buyer need?
Efficiency: Start with the online search. Buyers often incorrectly assume that the listings they see on sites like Zillow and Trulia are accurate. They aren’t. A Realtor® has access to the most up to date listings available. An experienced agent has also shown hundreds of houses with buyers just like you and can help you narrow down your search parameters after looking at just a few houses. That will save you countless hours of driving around town looking at houses that look good in pictures but in reality aren’t something you want.
Value: Most home buyers don’t have access to sales data to be able to determine what a house is worth. Your real estate agent does. Not only does she have access to that data but it is likely that she has been in a number of the homes that have sold in your desired neighborhood. This knowledge will allow her to use more than just data to determine a fair offer price that 1) will be competitive in a multiple offer situation, 2) won’t offend the seller because it is so low or 3) isn’t too high based on the current market and condition of the home.
Negotiation: Sure, most home buyers would be able to negotiate a price that they would be happy with but that’s not the end of the negotiations. It is when you find out that the hot water heater is failing or half the outlets in the living room don’t work or you tell the seller that you can’t stand the wood paneling and window treatments that negotiations can get sticky. Real estate agents negotiate home sales and purchases on a regular basis and can help you negotiate compensation for these things.
Part of the Realtor’s® role in negotiating is as a buffer between you and the seller. Some sellers will tell you to take a hike if they think you aren’t showing enough appreciation/respect for the house they love. Having someone on your team between you and the seller can also prevent you from saying something in the heat of the moment that the seller doesn’t need to hear whether it be an emotional reaction or a financial slip-up.
Paperwork: An experienced real estate agent has dealt with real estate contracts for years. She knows how to use the real estate contract to protect you. She knows which conditions and contingencies should be included in the contract and when they can be safely removed. The importance of conditions and contingencies can’t be overstated. Without them, something as simple as wanting to terminate a contract because you didn’t qualify for a mortgage can lead to lost earnest money and even a lawsuit.
Process: What comes next? How long do you have to get an inspection? Does the title company have all the paperwork ready? What about the appraisal? What about the lender? There is a lot that goes into keeping a real estate transaction in contract and on schedule. As a home buyer, do you have enough time to stay on top of these things and enough familiarity with the process to know what comes next?
There is a lot that goes into bringing a real estate transaction together and you have a lot of money on the line. Doesn’t it make sense to have an experienced professional on your team?