What are the benefits and disadvantages of having a real estate agent?

Asked by Deb Covar, Oxnard, CA Wed Jan 7, 2009

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Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Nov 3, 2009
With all due respect to S.Nelson, if you were to ask what the disadvantage of using a hammer to pound a nail was, the hammer would find it difficult to answer without appearing self-serving.
2 votes
Tisza Major-…, Agent, Upland, CA
Wed Jan 7, 2009
Hi Deb,

Good question :-) Let's start here... Have you SEEN the paperwork involved in purchasing a home these days? A standard offer for a normal purchase is a minimum of 28 pages of small print. A Realtor is the person whose job it is to know what documents need to be there, when they need to be prepared and what they are about. Sure, a competent Real Estate Attorney should be able to do the same thing but they charge you for their time. As a home buyer the Realtor does not.

(I realize that I am using the term "Realtor" and want to take a moment to offer some clarification... You asked about a Real Estate Agent which means anyone who is licensed through the Department of Real Estate to assist in the sale or purchase of real property. I am speaking about a "Realtor" which is someone has gone the extra mile to not only earn their license but to also join their State and Local Board of Realtor's and to ascribe to the Code of Ethics which holds them to an even higher standard. It also affords you as the consumer an additional level of protection and recourse in the unlikely event that you should need it if the transaction goes south. I am therefore advocating the hiring and use of a "Realtor" not just a Real Estate Agent.)

Also, by using a Realtor you get the additional layers of protection that their legal coverage provides. Errors and Omissions Insurance which they should have will protect you and them should something slip through the cracks on either side of the transaction. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it is always heart wrenching and expensive.

As the buyer in the transaction there are a myriad of details large and small that need to be attended to and very tight legal time lines that need to be followed in order for you to go successfully from offer to ownership. Missing deadlines can cost you money and the home. A good Realtor will help protect you.

A Realtor will also know how to structure your offer to protect you, your interests and your money in the best way possible for as long a possible. They know what "t's" need crossing and what "i's" need dotting and where they are because the contracts can be very confusing especially if you don't deal with them every day.

A Realtor will
Another part of my job as a Realtor is to function like a "personal shopper" for my client's. Their time is important so helping them narrow the search to those properties that fit the wants and needs they tell me are important to them allows them to not have to see every single home on the market, only the homes that "fit".

As for the disadvantages... hmm... umm... give me a minute here... As the buyer in the transaction I am hard pressed to come up with any. You get a personal shopper whose education is specifically tailored to arena you are seeking assistance in who helps you get the best value for your dollar, offers you a shoulder to lean on and a hand to hold when things get hairy and has access to all the information available about the product you want to purchase and does it all at no cost to you.

Hope that helps! Take care and have a great day!

Tisza Major-Posner, Realtor, IVPG Realty (909) 837-8922
Web Reference:  http://Route66Living.com
1 vote
Barry Shapiro, Agent, Camarillo, CA
Wed Jan 7, 2009
Hi Deb Covar,

I am glad you asked the question, including "disadvantages" in your inquiry. The clear disadvantage of having a Real Estate agent, would be in making the mistake of selecting the wrong one. Whether it be the agent's level of experience, the company they work for, their knowledge of the local area and their "philosophy" regarding how they treat their clients, you will want to spend a lot of time "interviewing" the right agent that matches your goals and dreams in real estate. I use a "no pressure", step-by-step, consultative approach to real estate. I don't show homes until we meet each other to decide if our philosophies are in alignment. if that "fresh" approach works for you, I'd like the opportunity to EARN your business.
1 vote
John Wall, , Long Beach, CA
Wed Jan 7, 2009
Very simply put, the benefit is that you have a trusted professional who works for you and in your best interest. Because I'm biased; I simply can't see a disadvantage to having an agent. Though if I try REAL HARD to come up with some... perhaps the only disadvantage would be an agent who you don't work well with, or have trouble communicating with. Two problems that many consumers face when they work with agents.

That said, having a good, qualified, and skilled agent, will benefit you by making sure that the transaction goes smoothly, all paperwork (lots and lots of it) is in order and executed correctly, and your expectations are met to your full satisfaction.

By not having an agent represent you, you're eliminating someone who will advocate for you during the entire process, and its very easy to end up in trouble if you don't know each process from start-to-finish in the sales transaction.

I won't even go into the statistics that say unrepresented buyers end up paying more than those who have agents. You can read all about that on any buyer's agent website.
1 vote
Bob and Rich…, Agent, Newtown, CT
Wed Jan 7, 2009
Hi Deb,

Good question! Benefits to having a real estate agent:

1. They will guide you through the process of buying a buying or selling a home.
2. Realtors are a third party to the transaction and are not emotionaly involved in the transaction. This is important, because the advice they offer you should be based on either fact or past experience.
3. Realtors sell real estate all the time and are familiar with the local real estate customs & other professionals (attorneys, real estate agents, inspection companies, etc).
4. A good Realtor will give you a list of what you need to do your home to get it ready for sale (painting, clean up, de-cluttering, etc).
5. Provide you with feedback after each showing of your home, if you are selling.
6. Give you excellent interent exposure.
7. Let you know about new homes when they come on the market (this is good for both buyers and sellers).
8. Provide you with local real estate market data.

Without a Realtor, you will not have any of this. In this market, if you are selling a home, exposure to the greatest number of possible buyers is paramount in getting your sold. If you are buying a home, there are very few for sale by owner sales these days.

Hope this helps you.

Bob & Richelle Ward
Prudential Connecticut Realty
rward@prudentialct.com
1 vote
J R, , New York, NY
Tue Nov 3, 2009
However, when pressed on the issue, most agents will agree to give the share for the buyer's agent back to the homeowner.
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Not likely. As an example, if the commission is 5%, 2.5% goes to handle the selling side, and 2.5 to handle the buyer. Why should I handle both for the same price.

I would also point out to you Deb, that the only way to have someone look out for YOU and your best interests is to have your own buyer agent. Otherwise it would be like both sides using the same attorney: they can't be working on BOTH your interests and have to work in their CLIENT'S (the seller) best interst.
0 votes
S.nelson, Both Buyer And Seller, Minneapolis, MN
Tue Nov 3, 2009
Be skeptical when someone tells you that there are "no disavantages" to something. They are trying to sell you their services. Potential disadvantages are:
1) An extra middle-man. When you are a willing buyer and someone else is a willing seller, having two agents in-between can (and does) often mess things up. Agents have told me things were "impossible" which turned out to be incorrect. I have even been insulted by an agent--though he always acted very personable when his client was around.
2) Cost. It is true that the seller typically pays for the buyer's agent. If you the buyer does not have an agent, and if nobody asks any questions, the seller's agent will keep a double-commission. However, when pressed on the issue, most agents will agree to give the share for the buyer's agent back to the homeowner. This can be a cost savings that benefits the buyer and the seller.
3) Low pressure. Even when an agent tries to be low pressure, you may feel pressure to hurry up and buy a house every time your agent contacts you. This may not be a problem for some people, but for others it can be.
4) Lack of dilligence. I have contacted seller's agents in the past who didn't get back to me for several days (or even weeks). If you were selling your own home, wouldn't you call people back right away? Plain and simple: you care more about selling your place and will work harder to get it sold.
5) Freedom to shop around. When you have an agent, other agents do not want to talk to you directly. If you want to do a little searching and calling on your own, you are at the mercy of your agent.

As for advantages, most of those have already been listed by the others. There is, however, one other advantage of having an agent. Not having an agent causes other agents to treat you differently. Some agents don't seem to have a lot of respect for someone trying to represent themselves. This can make it a bit of a bumpy road, even if you are otherwise comfortable representing yourself.

Those are just some things to keep in mind. Good luck!
0 votes
Chad Boyers, Agent, Toledo, OH
Wed Jan 7, 2009
Deb,

The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages of using a real estate agent for selling or buying property.

1. An agent has a much more thorough knowledge of the market, therefore should be able to price listings appropriately, as well as give advice on staging, etc.
2. An agent has a much larger arsenal with regards to contacts and marketing a home.
3. An agent has experience with negotiations, hopefully resulting in a better price for you, whether as a buyer or seller.
4. If you're selling, using an agent allows you to be free to do life normally, instead of having to be home for all showings, take care of paperwork, getting advertising and marketing done, and generally frees up a lot of time. As my company puts it, "We make it worry free". Stress level is very important when selling a home.

This is just a start, I'm sure more will get added. Remember that no 2 agents are created equally, we all have different business models, personalities, and so on. Find one that you feel meets your needs most closely. Also, if you are a buyer, most of the time you are not paying a fee directly to your agent, the seller is, so that's one less thing to worry about. Good luck to you, I hope this has helped!
Web Reference:  http://www.ChadBoyers.com
0 votes
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