Every real estate agent including the "buyer's agent" has a vested interest in getting the seller to pay as much as possible. So in order to avoid this built-in "feature", I've started dealing with the listing agent directly as that way, there is no allusion in my mind that anyone besides myself is looking out for my best interest. Every single solitary thing gets verified by county records, zoning office, permit office, etc, or as far I'm concerned, they're making it up. And even then you have to double check. After actually measuring several yards and home exteriors, I've found the square footage is frequently exaggerated. And I make my own appraisal prior to getting anybody else involved, and plan on going over the appraiser's choice of comps with a fine tooth comb as I was burnt BADLY in a prior attempt to purchase a home. You simply never know when the appraiser is getting kickbacks in exchange for inflating the value, even when you're paying their bill. Since there's only a few appraisers in any given area, they are all on friendly terms with all the realtors.
If you've been studying the market, you'd notice that the "sold" price is usually at least 20% less than listing price or estimate, whichever is lower. I've been studying the market for months and so far have only seen two listings which appeared to be priced at "real market value". Please remember we've had a housing bubble (as if anyone could forget) and there's still a very large amount of homes which haven't yet had a fair market price adjustment. Most owners are underwater if they've bought within the last ten years. So notice when the property was sold to it's current owner, and in addition, notice how much it sold for prior to THAT sale. Getting buyers to focus only on recent sales, is a scam tactic which fueled the flip frenzy. Why does it matter that you paid as much as your neighbor if you both grossly overpaid?
The system is set up to make it easy for the buyer to pay more than the property is worth. If you are asking these kinds of questions, then you are simply not prepared yet to enter the shark's pool. No offense but you have not studied the market enough to be able to answer these kinds of questions by yourself, and relying on a realtor who has a vested interested in a larger commission, is a mistake waiting to happen. I cannot stress this enough -- their entire purpose for breathing is to get you as the buyer to pay as much as possible, and make you feel good about getting screwed. Of course they are going to claim that ethical realtors exist, they certainly don't want you verifying anything they tell you. People who trust realtors are the worst sort of naive, especially if you foolishly believe they are your "friend". They would screw their own mother for a half percentage point.