Real estate 101 tells us there are usually 2 agents for every transaction. I know this is mostly common knowledge but I still find there are some people that don’t realize this and I’m not even sure I did when I bought my first house. There is an agent that represents the buyer and an agent that represents the seller. I say there are “usually” 2 agents because there are some exceptions. There are for-sale-by-owners (no agents involved) and there are dual agents (one agent that represents both the buyer and the seller). Here are some reasons why hiring an agent is usually the best route to take.
As a seller, the reasons for hiring an agent are pretty obvious. First of all, you need to get maximum exposure for your home. You need it listed on the MLS (multiple listing service) so that it’s visible to both agents and other buyers. Once it’s on the MLS, not only do thousands of agents see it, it also gets automatically shuffled through cyberspace and makes its way onto all major real estate websites for buyers to see. (Side note: In today’s real estate world, over 80% of buyers do their searching online.) Another reason sellers need an agent is for marketing (unless you are hip on the idea of doing all this yourself.) Marketing includes everything from flyers to signs to open houses to broker’s opens (a fancy term for an agents-only open house). Most agents are very skilled at doing this and have much more success than if the homeowners do it themselves. Then there’s the negotiation. Once an offer comes in it will usually involve some sort of negotiation unless you’re one of the lucky ones that gets full asking price and a close date that is not too far into the future! Again, agents are pretty skilled at negotiating an offer and have had much more experience in doing so than the average homeowner. So for you sellers, using an agent is crucial if you want to seller your house (ok, maybe crucial is a bit strong but it’s definitely a very good idea!)
As a buyer the reasons for using a home tend to revolve more around knowledge. Agents have knowledge of the area, what the average prices are, when and where things have sold, how long homes have been on the market and all that other good stuff that we all study over our morning coffee. Also, agents are usually the first to know when homes are going on the market and most tend to be experts in certain areas. If you want to find your dream home in your dream neighborhood, chances are an agent is going to know it’s coming on the market well before you will. Ethically, agents have to act in the seller’s or the buyer’s best interest. If you use the seller’s agent it is pretty impossible for them to act in both yours and the seller’s best interests. Have your own buyer’s agent that is solely responsible for your best interests.
On a final note, both agents have names. A buyer’s agent is usually called just that: a buyer’s agent. However keep in mind you may also hear them referred to as the “selling agent,” not to be confused with the “seller’s agent.” And while “seller’s agent” tends to make more sense, you will usually hear them referred to as a “listing agent.” Now, go out there and hire an agent!