The 7 Reasons You Still Need a Real Estate Agent

In today's information-saturated world, you might think that you can find and buy or rent your next place all on your own. What's it take, a couple Google searches and maybe a phone call? You'd be surprised. Even if you can sniff out some good leads and pieces of important information on the Internet, a real estate agent can save you a lot of time and keep you from making some budget-killing mistakes. These seven reasons alone should make you think twice about going the independent route, whether you want to buy, rent, or sell.

  1. They can see more listings than you can

    The MLS or Multiple Listing Service database provides information on every home for sale or rent listed by a real estate agent. However, only real estate agents get full, unrestricted access to the listings. You may be able to see some of them, but many will be hidden from your view. Rental houses are especially hard to find on your own and are often snatched up quickly. Teaming up with a real estate agent guarantees that you will know everything that's out there, which is important if you're going to find the perfect place to rent or buy, and that you can see new listings as soon as they hit the system.

  2. They can narrow down the possibilities

    When looking for a house or rental on your own, you will probably find yourself wasting a lot of time chasing down leads that turn out to be dead ends. The landlord seems shady, the seller's idea of modern style is carpet in the kitchen, or the space just isn't functional for what you had in mind. These are homes a real estate agent could've crossed off the list before you started. Their job is to learn about you and exactly what you want from a house or apartment so they can show you only the homes that fit your lifestyle, taste, and budget.

  3. They know what homes are worth

    Whether you're buying or selling, knowing the value of a home isn't always easy. The house you want to sell may have been worth a lot more in the market you bought it in, and pricing it accordingly will ensure that you can't find a buyer. If you're looking to buy, you could lose money on an overpriced house or skip over a great deal because you didn't understand how much it was worth. A real estate agent will be able to tell you what other homes in the neighborhood have sold for, use other complicated calculations, and figure an estimate of what you can reasonably expect to sell or buy a home for. If you go it alone, there are sites on the Internet that claim to give you an accurate price range for a certain home, but you'll have no way of knowing if they're right.

  4. They have a big network of buyers

    For Sale By Owner: this phrase doesn't exactly scream "Buy me!" to people looking for a home. If they even see your listing, they might be hesitant to deal with an amateur. But if you list your home with a real estate agent, they'll be advertising your home to clients of their company as well as potential buyers with other realtors. They already have the network in place, whereas you'd be starting from scratch. Your agent will also arrange showings and a marketing plan to give your home the best chance of selling to someone in their network.

  5. They know how to negotiate

    You love going to flea markets just for the chance to talk someone down to their lowest number. Car shopping is exciting for you because you have the chance to use your haggling skills. But even with all your bargaining wherewithal, the same tactics don't necessarily apply to real estate negotiations. A seller isn't likely going to come running after you with a lower price if you threaten to walk away. Real estate agents negotiate for their clients every day. They know how low you can go without having the seller walk away from negotiations as well as the psychology behind what kind of numbers sound best in an offer. Real estate agents also act as buffers to keep transactions from getting too personal; if you hurt the seller's feelings, they could be less likely to accept your offer.

  6. They're on your side

    If you jump into home buying or apartment hunting by yourself, everyone you'll be dealing with will have their own interests in mind. Apartment managers will downplay any problems with the complex and push you to put down your deposit immediately. An agent selling a home is going to convince you the house is going to go fast. You need someone in your corner to stick up for you, make sure you know your rights, and let you take the time you need to think through the decision. A buyer's agent will do just that. If you have any doubts about whether your agent is working in your interest, find a different one. There are plenty of realtors out there that want to get you your dream house at the lowest price.

  7. They'll handle all the paperwork

    Come on, people. We can't even be bothered to read the terms and conditions of websites and apps that could be stealing our identities. Do you really think you'll be able to handle the mountain of paperwork that comes with buying or renting a house? Most apartment leases are pretty standard and not too long, but if you're dealing with a seller or landlord of a home, especially one without a realtor making up the contract, you will definitely want a professional set of eyes on that sucker. Many For-Sale-By-Owner sellers print a contract off the Internet or have their attorneys write one up. This can produce a contract that strongly favors the seller over the buyer. The real estate agent can negotiate this, as well as dealing with the title company, talking with your lender, and making sure you meet all deadlines.