One of the biggest questions potential homeowners ask themselves when they enter the real estate home search is “Do I really need a real estate agent?” With the proliferation of technology, there are dozens of new tools and platforms to guide buyers through the process. Many of the tasks that were bottlenecked many years ago are streamlined and simple today.
Searching for a home, for example, is easier than ever. There are plenty of websites with a wide variety of filtering capabilities; within no time, you can have a curated list of all your ideal homes. However, there’s so much more to the real estate process than searching for homes. If you’re considering jumping into the process without a real estate agent, you should understand a few key tasks that agents can take care of that you likely won’t be able to. Here’s what an agent can help you with that you may not be able to do yourself:
Any real estate transaction will involve plenty of paperwork. This paperwork can quickly become overwhelming for anyone who doesn’t have experience in the real estate industry. Expect a purchase agreement, addenda, amendments, your home inspection report, closing disclosure, title insurance policy, and much more. Real estate jargon is very difficult to maneuver, and you could make a big mistake by dealing with paperwork and signing agreements that you don’t fully understand.
Help With Your Loan Pre Approval
Real estate agents maintain contact with lenders, bankers, and many other professionals in the industry. As such, once you start house-hunting and get involved with the buying process, agents can connect with you with the trusted lenders and walk you through some of the steps. New homeowners may not feel properly equipped to make the best decisions when it comes to pre-approvals, which is where agents can step in and offer sound advice. For instance, in many cases, it would be inadvisable to purchase a home at the max end of a preapproval letter. An agent will guide you through small decisions that make a big difference.
Negotiate Selling Price
Real estate agents are trained in negotiation tactics. Your agent will understand your priorities and what matters most to you. They are also very well-versed in the market and can use this information to your benefit when necessary. In fact, there are several types of negotiation strategies that real estate agents use.
Keep in mind that negotiation doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get the lowest price—sometimes the best deal means going above asking price to secure a competitive property in the best way possible. Either way, negotiation is always done with your best interests in mind. Agents understand how to negotiate from a win-win perspective, whereas an inexperienced agent might approach a negotiation with battlefield tactics.
Assist With an FSBO Property
A for sale by owner (FSBO) property presents its own set of unique challenges. Without an agent, a buyer may feel a little more vulnerable in the buying process. Independent sellers may not always be as honest about the state of their home, and it may be difficult to convince FSBO sellers to make any necessary repairs that would increase your confidence in the property. An agent can contact the seller on your behalf and ensure you’re protected throughout the process.
Credit Repair Advice
Some agents specialize in credit repair. Other agents who may not be officially certified in credit repair may still be able to offer sound advice based on their experience as a real estate agent. This can prove vital to home buyers. For instance, they may discover that despite their preapproval on a mortgage, the lender may not give them what they initially expected because the financial situation has changed. A real estate agent would be able to help prevent this type of situation or come up with a solution should it occur.
Choosing the Right Inspector
Once you’ve decided on the house you like, it’s time for a proper home inspection. A home inspection is a great time for you to get a much clearer picture of the true condition of your dream home. For most people, this is the most important financial decision they’ll make during their lifetime. However, finding a reputable inspector isn’t always a walk in the park. Your agent will be happy to refer you to someone they know and trust.
However, always cross-reference a referral against your own research. Check out online reviews, or see if they belong to any professional organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). If the home is older, you may need to pay more for an inspector with advanced training and experience.