1. Help you understand complex (always changing) real estate regulations. Buying or selling a home is a very complex process. Every home and every home sale is different. Aside from that, real estate laws can change from year to year and vary from state to state. REALTORS® are constantly immersed in real estate and are required stay current with all the updates in regulations, laws, contracts, and practices.
2. Provide technical information about a home. Because REALTORS® are constantly involved with the ins and outs of homes, they can share information about a home that you may not know. For example, they can tell you about the materials used to build the home and whether or not they are quality materials. They can also guide you on concerns about “the bones” of a home you have your eye on. Ultimately, your REALTOR® is able to go beyond the aesthetics of homes and can tell you important details about homes you may be taking into consideration.
3. Price your home (accurately). Many folks think about turning to the Internet for this one. There are tons of sites that give price estimates for homes before a seller even decides to put it on the market. Seller beware though, these prices aren’t always what they seem. Past studies have proven that online estimates can be off by as much as 35%, often only relying on tax records and data that could be outdated as much as a year! On the other hand, REALTORS® are well versed in price trends of the local market, have access to the most reliable sale data, and are skilled in pricing homes at the appropriate price in accordance with the market.
4. Work contracts. Today’s real estate contracts can be 50 pages long. Add on to that addendums and riders and a contract can become a nightmare for someone who is not familiar with them. REALTORS® understand these complex documents and work with them regularly. In fact, REALTORS® go through many hours of training to teach them how to write contracts. Take this into account: home buyers without a REALTOR® are significantly less likely to follow the contract’s timeline for applying for financing, performing inspections, putting the correct amount of money in escrow, etc. Sellers are more prone to dropping the ball in terms of providing payoff information, addressing title issues, obtaining HOA documents, termite/septic inspections, etc. All of these issues can easily lead to a lawsuit for breach of contract or specific performance. For obvious reasons, the role of a REALTOR® throughout this process is invaluable.
5. Provide expert community knowledge. Like we mentioned before, REALTORS® know the current state of the local market. They have knowledge about not only the city they work in, but of the living experience in specific neighborhoods. They understand common features of homes in all areas of the city, something that out-of-area buyers might be overwhelmed by or may not be aware of.
6. Give you the inside scoop on a home. Because REALTORS® have access to MLS, it’s easy for them to research homes buyers have questions about. MLS doesn’t just show them what homes are for sale, it also shows how long a home has been on the market, how many times the home has been for sale (successfully or unsuccessfully), what the HOA fees are in the neighborhood the home is located in, and the price history of the home since it first hit the market. They can also look up properties around the home a buyer is considering and can compare the terms and conditions of competing properties. Finally, it’s good to understand that REALTORS® network with each other. This is important because this gives them the ability to call each other up with questions about a listing they may have. Very frequently a buyer wants to understand why another buyer walked away from the home they now have their eye on or why a home is priced so low for the market it’s in. While a listing agent would be hesitant to answer those questions from a person that has cold called them, a REALTOR® could easily get those answers.
7. Tell you which homes are REALLY on the market. There are tons of places to go on the internet to look at real estate. Unfortunately, many of these places are slow to show new listings. When a property is listed for sale it hits the local MLS in minutes, however, it can take as long as 9 days to populate to other real estate search sites. Home buyers in a hot market may find that by the time they see the listing, visit the property, and submit an offer, the home could have been sold already. Similarly, many listings that are still on many internet search sites have already been sold- sometimes for weeks before they are removed. In fact, over 1/3 of the listings on real estate search sites are not actually for sale. REALTORS® know what homes are available, sometimes before it even hits the market!
Ultimately, it is true that all these answers could come from the Internet, BUT is it really worth the time and effort to find them, or is it best to let the pros handle it? We suggest leaving it to the pros.