Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell Without an Agent

real estate agent home buyers

BY: RACHEL STULTS

NEVER BUY OR SELL WITHOUT AN AGENT

It’s a slow Sunday morning. You’ve just brewed your Nespresso and popped open your laptop to check out the latest home listings before you hit the road for a day of open houses.

You’re DIYing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own sterling judgment.

Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need a REALTOR® if you want to do it right. Here’s why.

1. They have loads of expertise

Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Realtor is trained to speak that language fluently.

Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Realtors have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.

2. They have turbocharged searching power

The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Realtors have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Realtor can help you find those hidden gems.

Plus, a good local Realtor is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Realtor is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.

3. They have bullish negotiating chops

Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.

You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?

And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.

4. They’re connected to everyone

Realtors might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Realtor’s network. Use them.

5. They adhere to a strict code of ethics

Not every real estate agent is a Realtor, who is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country.

What difference does it make? Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics.

6. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one

The thing about Realtors: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors take lightly.

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10 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Before the Pro Helps You Buy a Home

real estate agent home buyers

Ready to buy a house? Then you’ll want to learn a few questions to ask a real estate agent—the go-to pro whose sole goal (at least as far as you’re concerned) is to help make your home-buying dream come true.

But not all real estate agents are created equal, which is why Peggy Yee, a supervising broker at Frankly Realtors in Vienna, VA, recommends interviewing at least three agents before deciding who you want by your side for this most important of all purchases. To help you figure that out, here are 10 questions to ask a real estate agent to suss out which one is right for you.

  1. How long have you been a real estate agent?

You want a professional who knows the ins and outs of the business, and that level of knowledge comes only with experience. Look for someone with at least a few years in the business. If the agent is a rookie, ask him if he will receive hands-on guidance from a real estate broker in his office (a broker is someone who has taken real estate education courses beyond the agent level and often manages a team of agents).

2. What neighborhoods do you specialize in?

Your agent should be well-acquainted with the areas you’re interested in, so search for someone who can rattle off key info about your desired neighborhood, including home prices, schools, safety, public transportation, and cultural amenities.

3. What’s your schedule and availability?

Many real estate agents work only part time, which could present problems: What if a bidding war has just begun on the home you just have to have, or you encounter last-minute closing snafus? Ideally you want an agent who works full time or, if not, the agent should make it abundantly clear that urgent matters will be addressed if necessary (which leads to our next point).

4. Do you work independently or with a team?

Some people think real estate is a solo sport, but many agents work on a real estate team with other agents, an administrative assistant, and a team leader—and there are benefits to working with an agent who’s part of a pack. For example, if your agent is tied up and you need to see a property ASAP, someone else on the team can step in and show you the home, or handle last-minute problems in lieu of your agent.

5. What percentage of your business is working with home buyers?

While most agents help both home buyers and sellers, the very best tend to specialize in one or the other, since the specialities are quite different. To buy a home, you should team up with a buyer’s agent—someone who specializes in working with home buyers. A listing agent, by comparison, focuses on working with home sellers. Look for an agent with a buyer-to-seller client ratio of at least 7 to 3, or ideally higher.

6. How many homes did you help buyers close in the past year?

This question is specific, because you want someone who successfully helps people buy homes.

“There’s a big difference between ‘working’ with home buyers and actually selling people homes,” Yee points out.

7. How long does it typically take buyers you’ve worked with to find and purchase a home?

Buying a house takes time. In general it takes an average of 30 to 60 days to shop for a house, and 14 to 60 days to go from contract to closing. However, this number varies widely from area to area, and it’s crucial that you have a handle on how long it’ll take you. Yet you also don’t want an agent who drags his feet unnecessarily. Translation: If an agent says it typically takes six months to a year to buy a house, that’s a red flag you could end up frustrated.

8. How will you determine what homes may match my wants and needs?

A good buyer’s agent provides clients with a comprehensive questionnaire to help them pinpoint their home-buying criteria, so ask for this survey in advance. Also, your agent should be able to tell you whether your list of “needs” is realistically affordable in your area.

9. How many clients are you currently working with?

You want an agent who’s busy but not too busy: Anyone juggling much more than 10 clients might be too busy to provide you with high-quality, one-on-one service.

10. How will you keep in contact with me during the buying process, and how often?

Does your agent prefer to stay in touch mainly by phone, email, or text—and how about you? Generally it’s best if your agent’s preferred method of communication aligns with your own. If your agent’s a texter while you prefer an actual conversation on the phone (or vice versa), that could drive you both bananas.

You should also ask how often you two will be touching base. Navigating the home-buying process requires good communication between you and your agent, so you want an agent who will stay in touch and check in with you on at least a weekly basis. In a fast-moving market, your agent should be touching base with you daily, lest you miss out.

You can search for agents in your area at realtor.com/realestateagents, where you can also read real estate agent reviews from previous clients.

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6 Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell a Home Without an Agent

never buy sell without an agent

By: Rachel Stults

It’s a slow Sunday morning. You’ve just brewed your Nespresso and popped open your laptop to check out the latest home listings before you hit the road for a day of open houses.

You’re DIYing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own sterling judgment.

Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need a Realtor® if you want to do it right. Here’s why.

1. They have loads of expertise

Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Realtor is trained to speak that language fluently.

Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Realtors have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.

2. They have turbocharged searching power

The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Realtors have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Realtor can help you find those hidden gems.

Plus, a good local Realtor is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Realtor is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.

3. They have bullish negotiating chops

Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.

You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?

And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.

4. They’re connected to everyone

Realtors might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Realtor’s network. Use them.

5. They adhere to a strict code of ethics

Not every real estate agent is a Realtor, who is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country.

What difference does it make? Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics.

6. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one

The thing about Realtors: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors take lightly.

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