Looking to buy or sell your home? This massive undertaking is as exciting as it is grueling if you’re doing it alone. It can take months of careful planning and puts a large dent in your wallet once it’s all said and done.
If you’ve looked at the percentage allotted to real estate agents skeptically while planning to buy or sell, you’re not alone. It’s tempting to forgo that extra fee all together to save a buck. But before you jump the gun, let’s take a look at the ins and outs of the role real estate agents play for buyers and sellers alike.
Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?
Yes, you can buy or sell a home without a real estate agent. There are some scenarios where people can safely navigate a real estate situation without representation. Some of those who are buying or selling a home from friends and family choose not to work with an agent; these are those “under the table” deals that don’t tend to come to market.
People will also opt out of working with an agent to save money. There is typically a 5 to 6 percent fee split between the buyer’s and seller’s agent. However, if you’re the buyer, the seller is most likely going to pay this fee so you won’t stand to save any money in most cases. There are also many intricate aspects to buying and selling a home you might miss if you go in alone.
What Do Real Estate Agents Do?
You may assume that most of a real estate agent’s job is tracking down potential homes or finding would-be buyers if you’re selling. Of course, those are pivotal aspects of this line of work but there is a lot more behind-the-scenes work involved in the process too. Here’s a breakdown of what a real estate agent does for buyers and sellers.
You’ll often hear the real estate agents representing a seller referred to as a “seller’s agent” or the “listing agent”.
At the beginning of the home selling process, they will assist you in preparing the property for sale. This will entail maximizing your property value, walking you through inspections, and advising you on what (if any) repairs you should complete. Once the home is up to snuff, they can also stage the home to make it look its best for potential buyers.
After the home is prepped to make its debut on the market, you’ll need photos. In most cases, your realtor will commission a professional photographer to capture your home. Some will even have a 3D Walkthrough created. Once those are delivered, your house will be one step closer to going live.
Next, your listing agent will help you figure out pricing. They will conduct a comparative market analysis based on the price people paid for homes nearby and other similar homes. Realtors will often reach out to other professionals in their area to help determine a fair price.
With a price and a gallery of professional photos, your home is ready to hit the market. This is where a lot of the behind-the-scenes work comes into play. You’ll notice your realtor put up a sign on your front lawn and probably listed your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database so it will appear on popular sites such as Zillow and Redfin. But this part of the process requires carefully thought-out marketing, networking with buyers agents, vetting potential buyers, and more.
In the home stretch of the selling process, your realtor will negotiate pricing with the potential buyers. This isn’t simply a matter of whoever brings the biggest offer to the table. Depending on whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, they will collaborate with the buyer’s agent to sweeten the deal in a number of creative ways for whoever holds the power.
Once a buyer is selected, they will draw up the paperwork and sort out any legal matters. This is when they will help negotiate closing costs, home warranties, and any other applicable fees. They will be present for inspection day and during the appraisal. As closing day approaches, they will tie up any and all loose ends and lay the groundwork for a smooth transaction from the seller to buyer.
A “buyer’s agent” helps track down a home and facilitate a successful closing, always keeping their client’s best interests at the forefront of their work. First things first, they will get you pre-approved for a loan. A good realtor will have a Rolodex of lenders and other financial experts in their network to connect you with.
Once you have a preapproval letter, the buyer’s agent will get to work tracking down your perfect home. This part of the process goes beyond a simple Zillow search; it will involve hours of research and phone calls. With your list of wants and needs in mind, they will track down a list of homes that could be a great match for you and your family.
Not only will a real estate agent help you find your ideal home, they’ll also help you find an area that will match your lifestyle. Most realtors have extensive knowledge about the area you’re buying in so they will point you towards homes within neighborhoods you’ll like. Their job is to help track down areas with amenities, schools, and community values that match your needs.
After you have some options to explore, your realtor will take you to showings. If you’re lucky, you might only have to go to a handful of showings. But in a seller’s market, you’ll likely have to prepare yourself for months of showings before an offer goes through. Either way, your buyer’s agent will be there to guide you every step of the way.
Eventually, you will find the right home for you. On that fateful day, your agent will hit the ground running, prepping for (fingers crossed) a successful closing. They will negotiate an offer, set up a home inspection, facilitate that inspection, negotiate any inspection repair requests, and handle communication between you and the seller. If everything goes as planned, they will then move to finalize the sale.
Closing day can be emotional and hectic for a buyer. Your agent will step in to help with paperwork, tie up any last-minute issues, and conduct a final walkthrough. If any issues arise, they will step in to help you find the best path forward.
Why Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent?
That’s the real question here. Selling and buying a home is a multilayered process with a lot of legal considerations. If you don’t go in with representation, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed or taken advantage of. You might end up selling your home for less than it’s worth or missing out on repairs you should’ve had covered when buying a home. The bottom line is you are going to get the best deal possible if you have a real estate agent by your side.
How to Find an Agent Near You
There are plenty of ways to find an agent when buying or selling a home. Be sure to look into options in advance so you start yourself off on the right foot. Here are some places to start:
- Ask your friends. Have they had an agent that they really liked?
- Talk to a trusted lender. They likely have many real estate agents in their network.
- Search online. Google is your friend! Be sure to look for reviews and testimonials.
- Interview potential agents. Be sure to vet several options to find the right fit.
Reach Out to Me For All Your St. Augustine, FL Real Estate Needs
If you are in the St. Augustine-Jacksonville area, I would love to guide you through the selling or buying process. I offer a concierge-style real estate service to assure a top-tier customer experience. Wherever you are in your real estate journey, I’ll be sure to represent you with professionalism and knowledge every step of the way.
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