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Do I really need a Realtor to buy/sell a home?

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“Do I really need Realtor to buy/sell my home?” We get this question a lot! And the answer is simple, YES! Here’s why….

Whether buying or selling, real estate is the biggest financial decision most of us will ever make. There are lots of laws that govern a real estate transaction (not to mention the contracts!). Having a licensed Realtor on your side will protect you and your bottom line. Sure, you can do it yourself but are you ready to take on all the things your agent will do for you? Let’s consider the daily activities of a Realtor.

On the Selling Side:

Marketing! Where do you even start? A good Realtor (or team) will market your property on hundreds (yes, HUNDREDS) of websites! The Galligan Team for example utilizes over 350 websites when advertising our inventory and we are constantly looking for additional ways to get your home noticed. You need your home to stand out against the hundreds of homes just like yours in your area and that takes experience. A Realtor will take professional pictures and get your home noticed, stat! They will also suggest ways to make your home marketable by doing repairs, staging when necessary etc. They will upload all the homes important information onto the areas MLS so that all the Realtors in that state can view it and know what the status of the listing is. With a built-in data base of clients, they may already have multiple buyers looking for a home just like yours! It’s easy to assume that this is a job you can DIY but with all the laws governing this type of transaction something like this should be left in the hands of trained, licensed, seasoned professionals.

Access/Convenience:

A Realtors full-time job is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers and they have access to all the important contacts associated with a potential sale. A full time Realtor will know what it takes to get a deal together. For example, if you’re buying a home, your Realtor will search for homes that meet your specific criteria and make appointments to see those homes which often require a code to access a lock box not accessible to a buyer representing him/herself. They will also ask all the important questions about that home and make sure there aren’t any issues you need to know about. Realtors are trained professionals whose main objective is to protect their clients, so we know when to ask questions to uncover potential problems and request proof when needed (i.e. permits for additions/improvements). If you don’t have an agency agreement with a Realtor and you go up against a Professional during negotiations, chances are you are going to make mistakes and end up wishing you had a Realtor there to help negotiate. Additionally, your agent has access to the MLS in your area which means they have access to the most accurate information on ALL the homes available. Searching Realtor.com and the alike is fun and sometimes the information is accurate but I can’t tell you how often that data is outdated or just plain incorrect. Remember, those sights are useful tools but not always accurate. A Realtor cuts out the middle man and gets right to the most up to date information and has the credentials to get you inside.

If your selling, you will have to solicit calls from interested parties at all hours of the day, answer questions and make appointments based on the buyer’s availability, not yours! That means taking time off work to rush home for a showing only to find that no one ever shows up (which happens more often than one might think)!! Your schedule means little to a potential buyer and if you’re not available, they often move on quickly.  Your Realtor knows how to screen potential buyers as well, such as asking if they are pre-approved and other pertinent questions you may not be aware to ask. Your Realtor works hard to bring the most qualified buyers to the table and has the experience to know which questions to ask. Selling your home can take several weeks (or months depending on the market) and could see 10, 20, 30 or more potential buyers, can you afford to be home to accommodate all that traffic?

 

Negotiating, it’s not for everyone:

A lot of people think cutting out the Real Estate Agent creates true transparency allowing each party to better represent and protect their own interests or that it gives you the control you think you want and need. This may be true, but this only works in a situation where both buyer and seller are rational people who like each other and play fair. This is often not the case! There are a lot of personalities involved and it’s a high stake, high emotion game. The seller LOVES their wood paneling and red shag carpet while you despise it. Immediately, things just got personal and supremely awkward. Your Realtor is your sounding board, listening to how much you hate every inch if that homes décor and takes that information in a professional way to the seller’s agent. This conversation becomes about the money needed for necessary updates to bring the home into the millennium, not about how much “I hate everything about your home” …. The agent plays the bad guy, preventing bad blood from developing during a transaction (usually).  And this doesn’t even touch upon getting to the “bottom line”. Ever talk finances with a stranger? Letting two highly trained and qualified Realtors work out the details for you prevents each side from making mistakes that can hurt you in the long run. Yes, Realtors can and do make mistakes but again, because we are Licensed Professionals in a situation where one or both parties are injured due to the negligence of a Realtor you have a course of action available to you. (Check out the PA Real Estate Commission webpage for additional information on that topic).

Holy Paperwork! :

You think filling out the necessary paperwork for a US Passport is confusing? Try working your way through Property Disclosures and Real Estate contracts! If you decide to buy or sell a home, the offer to purchase contract is there to protect you and ensure that you can back out of the deal if certain conditions aren’t met. For example, if you plan to buy a home with a mortgage but you fail to make financing one of the conditions of the sale–and you aren’t approved for the mortgage for any reason–you can lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract! Let’s not forget contingencies! Often the sale of or purchase of a home has a contingency where one side needs to complete “X” before they can satisfy all the terms of the agreement. The language regarding such situations should be precise and air tight as to protect the client accommodating such. This happens, for example, when a buyer needs to sell their home before they can buy another or when a seller needs to find a new home before they can sell their current home. An experienced real estate agent deals with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis, and is familiar with which conditions should be used, when they can safely be removed and how to use the contract to protect you. Contracts are not something to take lightly. They are legal instruments that bind you to whatever terms and conditions relate to that transaction and have built-in repercussions if one or more parties fail to meet those requirements.  In some cases, your Realtor will even suggest you consult with a Real Estate Attorney, that’s how important the language is!

Real Estate agents can’t lie :

OK, they can, but because they are licensed through the state there are major repercussions if they do (such as fines, suspension/loss of license or jail time in severe cases). Whereas a private buyer/seller is not held as accountable. If you are working with a licensed real estate agent under an agency agreement, (i.e., a conventional, full-service commission agreement in which the agent agrees to represent you), your agent will be bound by common law (in most states) to a fiduciary relationship. In other words, the agent is bound by license law to act in their clients’ best interest (not his or her own) which can’t be said about FSBO (for sale by owner) transactions.  As Realtors it’s our duty (and privileged, I might add) to ensure that our clients’ interests are protected.  Also bear in mind, Realtors devote their careers to their clients and rely on their reputations to support themselves.

Lastly, the commission you are trying so hard to avoid is paid by the seller in most cases! Whereas the lawyer you will need to protect your interests is paid for in full by yours truly. If your selling, that agent earns his/her commission through the cost of marketing, acting as liaison between you and the feeding frenzy of agent inquiries, setting up appointments and waiting for them to show (if you elect not to have a lockbox) which means you’re not taking time out of your day hoping they show and finally, they negotiate for you to protect your bottom line. From the outside looking in it may seem like a quick and easy road to navigate but the numbers don’t lie:

According to the National Association of Realtor®’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average FSBO sales price was $185,000, while the average price for a home represented by an agent was $245,000. That’s a difference of $60,000!

At the end of the day, having a professional on your side during the biggest transaction of your life sounds like the smart way to go but don’t just take our word. I’ve linked several articles below so you can research the topic yourself.

If you have questions, feel free to contact a member of The Galligan Team. We are always happy to meet new people and talk shop. Check us out online for useful information, to get to know the team, for staging and DIY inspo or for a quick laugh! Head over to our Instagram and Pinterest  pages and make sure to check out the Resource Page to find other articles that may be helpful to you.

The following articles may also be useful :

Realtor.com, National Association of Realtors, Redfin, Fox Business

 

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