1) Education & Experience
You don’t need to know everything about buying and selling real estate when you hire a real estate professional that does. Many realtors have advanced business degrees and consistently attend training that keeps them up to date on the latest market or legal news relating to real estate. Henry Ford once said that when you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are. As all real estate agents cost about the same for their services, you should seek out an agent with the best level of education and experience. Using a real estate agent does more than just sell your home, it allows you to have more precious time in your life to take care of the things most important to you..
2) Agents are Buffers
Agents take the spam out of your property showings and visits. If you’re a buyer of new homes, your agent will whip out their sword and keep the builder’s or seller’s agents at bay, preventing them from biting or nipping at your heels. If you’re a seller, your agent will filter all out all the phone calls that lead nowhere and help to induce serious buyers to immediately write an offer.
3) Neighborhood Knowledge
Agents either possess intimate knowledge or they know where to find the industry buzz about your neighborhood. They can identify comparable sales and hand these facts to you, in addition to pointing you in the direction where you can find more data on schools, crime or demographics. For example, you may know that a home down the street was on the market for $600,000, but an agent will know it had upgrades and sold at $550,000 after 75 days on the market and after twice falling out of escrow.
4) Price Guidance
Contrary to what some people believe, agents do not select prices for sellers or buyers. However, an agent will help to guide clients to make the right choices for themselves based on a variety of factors. Selling agents will ask buyers to weigh all the data supplied to them and to choose a price. Then based on market supply, demand and the conditions, the agent will devise a negotiation strategy.
5) Knowledge of Market Conditions
Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will heavily influence the selling or buying process. Many factors determine how you will proceed. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do.
6) Professional Networking
Real estate agents network with other professionals, many of whom provide services that you will need to buy or sell. Due to legal liability, many agents will hesitate to recommend a certain individual or company over another, but they do know which vendors have a reputation for efficiency, competency and competitive pricing. Agents can, however, give you a list of references with whom they have worked and provide background information to help you make a wise selection.
7) Negotiation Skills & Confidentiality
Top producing agents negotiate well because, unlike most buyers and sellers, they can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction and developed high level negotiation skills. It’s part of their job description. Good agents are not messengers, delivering buyer’s offers to sellers and vice versa. They are professionals who are trained to present their client’s case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.
8) Handling Volumes of Paperwork
Today’s purchase agreements run 10 pages or more. That does not include the federal and state mandated disclosures nor disclosures dictated by local custom. Most real estate files average from one to three inches of paper. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands. In some states, lawyers handle the disclosures.
9) Answer Questions After Closing
Even the smoothest transactions that closes without complications can come back to haunt. For example, taxing authorities that collect property tax assessments, doc stamps or transfer taxes can fall months behind and mix up invoices, but one call to your agent can straighten out the confusion. Many questions can pop up that were overlooked in the excitement of closing. Good agents stand by ready to assist. Worthy and honest agents don’t leave you in the dust to fend for yourself. A professional real estate agent works hard to maintain their level of respect in the community and will not abandon a client.
10) Develop Relationships for Future Business
The basis for an agent’s success and continued career in real estate is referrals. Few agents would survive if their livelihood was dependent on consistently drumming up new business. This emphasis gives agents strong incentives to make sure clients are happy and satisfied. It also means that an agent who stays in the business will be there for you when you need to hire an agent again. Many will periodically mail market updates to you to keep you informed and to stay in touch.