With so much information readily available online, clients often ask themselves "Why should I hire a real estate agent?" There are several reasons why selling or buying a home without their help is a bad idea. Not all homeowners understand the benefits of hiring a real estate agent. In this article we will help you understand why you should never buy, or sell a home by yourself.

Education & Experience

The lack of education regarding the real estate industry is always underestimated. Despite living in the information age, finding out what what your home is really worth- is not easy. Part of the value that realtors bring to the table is their access to the local board’s MLS data. The MLS is a multiple listing service that can only be used by real estate professionals. It grants agents the access to private knowledge- industry buzz about your neighborhood and the ability to disclose market conditions, as well as valuable demographics including data regarding schools and crime rates, which will govern your selling or buying process. The agent can identify comparable sales and educate you about the market, in addition of pointing you in the right direction.

Many factors determine the value of your home and how you can proceed. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria will be the deciding factor on the price of the property. However you as the owner, simply do not have access to the vital data.

Your Time

Typically in a for-sale-by-owner deal, the potential buyer’s agent knows there won't be a professional colleague on the other end, increasing their risk in the transaction. Even if a potential buyer insists on seeing your home, due to legal liability their agent might discourage them from making an offer, indicating the hardships, legalities and risks of trying to close the deal without a professional representing the seller.

In experience, majority of all pre-qualified buyers are already represented by agents. Real Estate agents network with other professionals, therefore your potential clients are viewing houses that are represented by professionals. As mentioned earlier, realtors mainly use their local MLS when trying to find homes for their buyers- your home will not be listed there.

You might think that marketing on a third party website like “Zillow” can offer som exposure of your home, but you must be prepared for “unqualified” buyers with no real intentions of purchase contacting you.

A Real Estate professional has years of selling and buying experience, they can easily find out whether someone who wants to view your home is a qualified buyer, just a dreamer or a curious neighbor. You need to understand that marketing your home is lot of work, a major interruption every time you have to put your life on hold for a potential showing, as well as constantly maintaining your home in order to look presentable, and move in ready when you show your home.

The Paperwork

Your inexperience will cost you. Do you have the experience of negotiating closing costs, the sales price or property transfer with a home buyer? It is essential you understand that one tiny mistake or omission could land you in court, or cost you thousands of dollars. The process of closing a sale is lengthy and legally regulated to protect the buyer and seller. Even the smoothest transactions that close without complications can come back to haunt you months later. For example; taxing authorities that collect property tax assessments, doc stamps, escrows, or transfer tax can fall months behind, it becomes easy to mix up invoices and correctly fill out the necessary paperwork. Unless you’re a real-estate attorney, you have no knowledge about disclosure laws. If you fail to disclose a hazard, nuisance or any defect and the buyer finds any problems, they will sue you.

To prevent discrepancy and related errors all real estate agent’s are required to be constantly educating themselves about negotiating on behalf of their clients. They work hard to obtain certifications such as the “Certified Negotiations Expert” designation. If a potential buyer and their agent is more well-versed than you as a lone seller on how and when to properly negotiate items in a real estate transaction, potentially thousands could be at risk.

All Real Estate agents have much more experience handling the essential paperwork, and the process of purchase. Agents have something called E&O, which is Errors & Omissions Insurance. This protects them when mistakes are made in contracts. When you sell on your own, others can legally exploit every little mistake you make to their benefit. In real estate inexperience translates into financial losses.

The Profit

Often during a FSBO transaction (for sale by owner) you may think that you’re saving money, however in reality you’re often spending money up front with no guarantee of any return. Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling the home on their own. It's important to realize that when buyers consider FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. Do not be deceived into thinking that you’re actually any money.

There’s a good reason why over 85% of homes are listed with a real estate agent. During a FSBO you attract investors and low-ballers who see your inexperience and ignorance as a prime opportunity. What may seem like a reasonable offer to you, may be a steal to them.

An experienced agent will always negotiate. It encourages them to work harder and offers incentive in selling a property at the highest possible price – since their commission is tied to the price of the house, they will also want to sell it for more, you benefit from this too. According to the National Association of Realtors, homes that are sold without the help of an agent will sell for an average of $210,000. Comparatively, with the help of an agent, that number is $249,000, that is more than a 15% increase in your pocket.

Selling your home will likely be one of the biggest transactions of your life. Hiring a real estate agent will cost some money when the transaction goes through, usually a percentage of the final sales price that you establish, however, they more than make up for the cost in everything they’re helping you with.