Do you really need a real estate agent to buy or sell a home? Is it too risky not to use one or too expensive to use one?
Real estate agents used to be used in virtually all transactions, then for sale buy owner services started cropping up, promising to save homeowners money but which often ended up being more expensive, then the boom and bust came along, followed by incredible advances in technology. Now even some real estate agents are calling themselves dinosaurs and are realizing their days are numbered.
So what’s right for you?
The Pros of Using a Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents remain a great source of knowledge and free information. They can be a nice buffer in negotiations and certainly make buyers and sellers feel better about their decisions. Though perhaps most importantly they offer access to the MLS. However, today buyers can search for properties online for free and sellers can list their homes in the MLS for a few hundred dollars. Know that you don’t have to use a real estate agent, besides many simply can’t afford to use one today.
The Cons of Using a Real Estate Agent
Being overpaid is perhaps the biggest complaint about real estate agents today. Paying, 5, 6 or 10% to use an agent today certainly seems like way too much. If you can find one who will work on a seriously discounted rate that may be worth considering, depending on how much time you have.
Unfortunately many real estate agents are very inexperienced or for those who have been in the business for decades, seriously out of touch. This is often especially true of those old, semi-retired Realtors who you know through a friend of the family. While it is great to be loyal and you may feel you can trust these people more, when it goes wrong are you going to sue them? You may have to.
There are some great, honest and caring real estate agents out there. Sadly there are many who are simply chasing the highest possible commissions and who don’t put their clients interests firsts.
Remember, you can always have an attorney or the attorney from the title company you are using look over your contract and help keep the deal together if things get difficult for a lot less than 6%.
If you are not under any time pressure, money isn’t a big issue and you don’t want to do anything yourself then a real estate agent can be a great help.
However, if time and money are tight and you do want to be involved and make sure you are getting the best deal you may want to look at your other options.