Mr. Cheap & I have published a rather large number of posts where we point out that SOMETIMES real estate agents are not your friend, associate or even on your side and they definitely can’t ALWAYS be trusted. Heck, sometimes people DO use a friend as a real estate agent and SOME agents must be foolish enough to be honest with clients.
That said, neither one of us has anything personal against agents – most of our complaints have to do with their compensation system which is determined by the large real estate brokerage companies who control MLS (for now).
In fact, I recommend that most people should use a real estate agent for a number of reasons.
1) Knowledge of the local market prices
Yes, your agent will undoubtedly withhold and manipulate data as they see fit for their own gain, but the fact remains that they should have more knowledge than you regarding local market conditions. Unless you are willing to spend a ton of time learning the market yourself then it’s worth paying for someone else’s experience.
2) Knowledge of local landscape
When I bought my first house I had a few pretty nice areas in mind where I wanted to live. Once I figured out that I couldn’t afford to live there then my agent suggested a couple of areas that were not quite as nice (which is not to say they were bad). If you don’t know all the areas in your city or if you are new to a city then hiring a local real estate agent can be quite helpful.
3 Access to house details and comparative sales
This is the big reason why MLS is so valuable. If you are selling a 3-bedroom semi in Leaside then you look at all the recent sale prices and get a better sense for the market. This info is available from other sources such as city hall but it is very difficult and inconvenient.
4) Easier access to houses
This is one of the biggest advantages of having an agent regardless of how experienced you are with buying houses. The fact is that people selling a house are not going to let you in without an agent. You can contact the selling agent to book an appointment but there is no guarantee they will play ball. Open houses are a good way to look at a house but they are quite limited.
Another problem is that sometimes buyers without agents are considered “ignorant” and might not be taken seriously.
5) Transportation when looking at houses
The two agents I’ve dealt with on the buy side always drove me around to look at houses. Considering I had a car this wasn’t what I would call an overly valuable service but for a house buyer that doesn’t own a car, this would come in pretty handy.
6) Less stress to close the deal
One thing about an agent is that they will do all the administration for documents, finances etc. This service might not be worth the money it costs, but regardless, it’s work you don’t have to do.
7) Renovation ideas
Agents tend to have at least some knowledge of renovation and design ideas so for a client who has a problem with the layout/condition/colour of a potential house, that agent might be able to lend some insight about how to change things. You have to remember that the agent is doing whatever they can to get you to buy the house so they will estimate potential renovation costs WAY on the low side.
On the sell side, the agent should be able to know what buyers are looking for and can make suggestions to the home owner on what parts of the house to fix up for sale.
8) You are going to pay anyway.
Even if you do the dual-agent ripoff thing you will still be paying for an agent anyway since the “dual” agent will just collect twice as much commission so you might as well get some service out of it.
So there you go – all the reasons you need to get a real estate agent, hold your nose over the fees and get going on your real estate adventure!