If you’re considering buying or selling a property, you’re probably asking yourself whether or not you should hire a real estate agent. Do I really need a real estate agent? Surely it cannot be that hard.
Technically, yes, you can do without a real estate agent, but in all fairness it won’t be such a great deal you’ll get. And you’ll only realize that when it’s already too late.
Let’s have a look at what real estate agents actually do and how their experience can help you find a new home with no hidden problems at the right price or get the best possible price on your old house. Here are 10 top reasons to hire a real estate agent, reasons you probably haven’t considered so far.
- Real estate agents know the market. You don’t
When you’re thinking about buying or selling a house, you’ll probably look up other properties in the area to get an idea about prices. That’s very good, but you need to keep in mind that’s only a vague idea you’ll be getting. That has little to do with what’s really happening on the market.
For starters, what you see on Imobiliare or OLX is the asking price. People often have unrealistic expectations and in many cases they’ll never get that price. If your general idea of the market is based on expectations rather than real prices, it will be pretty skewed from the start.
A real estate agent worth his salt knows what’s the average price per square foot in any given area and the ratio of list-to-sold prices. The latter refers to whether a house sold for more or less than its last listed price. An agent with many years of experience in the field can tell you how long a certain property has been on the market and how long it’s going to stay there at that kind of price.
- Agents will help you find the house of your dreams in no time
If you’re going at it alone, what options do you have? Spending hours on real estate listings sites, looking at photos, writing down prices, making lists and wondering where it was that you saw that lovely house with a couple of swings in the backyard. It’s a nerve-wracking and time-consuming job, not to mention not very efficient.
On the other hand, when you talk to a real estate agent and tell them you’re looking for a so-and-so house in that city, they already have in mind a list of available properties that meet your description and fit within your budget.
Things are particularly hard when you’re moving to a new city you know little about. A quick search can reveal the best neighborhoods, at least according to those making the list and they might have a veiled interest in promoting certain areas.
A good agent can point out the merits of looking at neighboring areas which might have better prospects in terms of development, or better schools for your kids, etc. No search engine will do that for you!
- Agents have access to off-market listings
Not all sellers want their homes advertised on property search websites, as this can be quite a hassle. They prefer to do things quietly and work through trusted real estate agents. When you reach out to an agent they can point out suitable properties whose owners are looking for the right buyer, and you could be that lucky buyer!
- Real estate agents can offer home staging advice
First impressions are essential when you’re looking to sell a house. The moment a prospective buyer walks in you want them to see a house where they can imagine themselves living. If the place is clean, full of light and airy, half the deal is already done. Well-versed real estate agents can tell you from the start what you can do to make your house look better, but in many cases they bring in staging experts. These will help you with de-cluttering or they might bring props, especially if the house is empty.
An independent opinion on the state of your house is invaluable, as you’re inevitably biased. If you’ve lived there for a number of years, what you see when you walk in is familiar and it says home to you. When a stranger walks in he might see a mess, and you don’t want that.
- Agents know how to spot hidden problems
As they know only too well what needs to be done to make a house look better, agents have a very keen eye when it comes to spotting hidden flaws. When you tour a property you have to assume the owners had their own agent to help them stage the set. If you bring your own agent he’ll know exactly what to look for. A leaking roof? All you have to do is apply a fresh coat of paint on the damp stains, and your agent will be on the lookout for those.
Likewise, real estate agents know the signs of a potential insect infestation or mold.
You might still decide to buy a house even if it does have certain issues that need fixing, if the price is right. However, if the house needs extensive repairs, you might want to pass.
- Agents know how to negotiate
The importance of this aspect cannot be overstated. In the vast majority of cases, there’s room for negotiating the price. And it’s not just about haggling. A seasoned negotiator can come up with a myriad of arguments to drive down the price, and this is what you need to do when you’re serious about buying a house. ‘This is my final offer’ rarely works especially if you’re dealing with a good house in an area in high demand. An experienced agent can easily come up with figures, short-term and long-term market trends or point out real estate investments in the area that might affect housing prices. You need to convince the seller that they’re asking for too much money and they might not get an offer as good as yours, and that’s something only an experienced agent can do.
- Real estate agents can offer advice on what is a good investment and what not
This is essential for real estate investors, but it’s just as important if you’re just looking for a house to live in yourself. Buying a house is a big investment and you need to look at the long-term perspectives. You don’t know when you might want to sell that property, only to discover it’s value has gone down.
An agent can tell you if the market is overheated in a certain area and people in the know are estimating prices will be going down in a year or two. Also, you need to be aware of development projects in the area. If there’s a big construction project underway, you can expect prices to drop if there’s an influx of new properties on the market.
Another thing you need to consider is the unemployment situation in a city. If a major employer has just announced they’re moving their business elsewhere, you can expect a rise in unemployment, and this will impact the housing market. On the contrary, if an important company is about to open a new branch in the area, a boom in housing demand will follow and this will increase the value of the property.
- They know all the people you need to finalize the deal
If only buying a house were as easy as ‘Hey, I like this place, here is the money!’ You know it’s not that simple, but you haven’t probably considered all the people you’ll need in the process or where to find them.
If you’re a seller, a real estate agent can put you in touch with home repairs professionals and staging companies to spruce up your home.
If you’re the buyer, you’ll need to talk to appraisers, real estate lawyers and mortgage experts.
Real estate agents have extensive networks and will save you a lot of time and money by putting you in contact with all the right people. This is a godsend at a time when you have so many things to worry about.
- Real estate agents can save you a lot of time and headache
This goes for both sellers and buyers. You might see ads saying ‘sold by owner’, but are you mentally prepared for that? Do you see yourself spending weeks or months organizing house viewings that don’t lead anywhere? Are you willing to take calls at all hours and answer even the most absurd questions?
A good agent can spot time-wasters from miles away, so you won’t have to deal with them. They can also organize viewings, so they won’t cause much inconvenience to you and your family.
If you’re the buyer, they can tell you which properties are worth viewing and which are not suitable for your needs.
And if you do find a good deal, they’ll help you get the paperwork done in no time, and this is vital in a heated market. If it takes too long, someone else might snap it!