Why bother with a real estate agent?
Between Zillow and Realtor.com- who needs ’em, right? Wrong! There are a TON of reasons that a licensed agent will turn your search from painful to pleasant, but if you’re anything like me then you have a 30 second attention span- so I’ll just give you the best of.
1)Buying a house involves a lot of laws! Know what happens when you go to court without a lawyer? You Lose! The closing lawyer is there to represent the bank’s interest, not yours- don’t you want someone familiar with real estate law to watch out for you? Don’t get stuck with cows roaming over your land because the property you just bought came with an easement (and no, you can’t legally do anything to stop them if you really did buy a servient estate, so I hope you like cow patties). Don’t agree to pay all the points on your buyer’s loan if you are selling (you just lost roughly your real estate agent’s fee right there). Agents spend a small fortune to get licensed so that YOU don’t have to worry about that kind of thing (ok, so like a large piggy bank, not a small fortune, but still!)
2)An MLS search form is not the same as the real thing! (And if you said “what?” when I said MLS then stop reading and call a broker). A licensed agent is required to pay a monthly fee for a much more detailed search engine than you are privy to. Sure maybe you can find a 4 bedroom for $150,000 on your own, but what if you could have found one with a fireplace for $200 bucks more? Or if you’re not a pyro (then you should be- just kidding) then your agent can pick out 4 beds with hardwood floors, or fenced backyards. Free searches are free for a reason.
3) Buying a house should make you happy! Not stressed. But the truth of the matter is it’s a very involved process, and having someone to help co-ordinate that process, hold your hand during the closing meeting (figuratively of course, a 3% commission only buys so much!) and talk you down from the roof of your crappy corporation’s office when the bank tells you you only qualify for a $100,000 house on your laughable paycheck, can be (in this case quite seriously) a life saver.
It’s true that not every real estate professional is, well, professional (that’s true in every job from retail to construction to modeling)- so definitely get to know them before signing a buyer’s agency/listing agreement. Ask questions and get a good idea of how they conduct business. If you do that, and you can keep in mind that they are people too and can neither work 24 hours a day nor conjure miracles, then you will find that your real estate experience can be a very enjoyable one.