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Should I Use a Real Estate Agent?

There's no question on anyone's mind whether or not the real estate market has taken a serious downturn in the last six months - it definitely has. As a matter of economic principle, the downturn in the market has created what is known as a buyer's market. What that means is that buyers of homes have much more power, control, and bargaining power during a sale, as opposed to the height of the real estate boom several years ago which was a seller's market, where a homeowner named a price -- an inflated price, and their home was snatched up very quickly in a throng of eager buyers.

If you want to sell your home now, you have to compete with a lot of other sellers who are trying to move their homes just like you are; this means making plenty of reasonable accommodations, upgrades to the property, and you need to be willing to accept a lower price than you probably want. Aside from this, selling your home without a real estate agent also means that you must:

  • Find and pay an appraiser who will give you a reasonable price to list your home, or Competitive Market Analysis (CMA).
  • Find ways to list your home so potential buyers know it is there.
  • Market your home attractively so that buyers will prefer it to other homes in their price range
  • Negotiate with potential buyers around a legal minefield of information that you are provided to disclose when trying to sell your home.
  • Negotiate on your own, or with the help of a lawyer, the proper contracts to begin the selling process and put the home into escrow once you have an interested buyer
  • Deal with plenty of "window shoppers" who are not pre-qualified to buy your home. This means lots of long nights or weekends showing your home to perfect strangers who may have no intention of buying a house for another six months or may not be able to obtain the credit needed to purchase your house even if they are interested.

So What's the Benefit of Not Using an Agent?

Boils down to money. A real estate agent will cost you thousands of dollars. The debate over whether they are worth that kind of money is old and will probably rage until the end of time, but most people choose to make use of an agent's services if for no other reason than it is the fastest way to get interested buyers to your front door as opposed to just placing a classified ad in the paper.

Whether or not you should use an agent primarily breaks down to your experience level with buying and selling homes and whether you have the drive, determination and know-how to do those thousands of dollars worth of work on your own. It certainly isn't easy, but the upside is that if you try it and things don't seem to be going well, you can find a local, qualified agent and start working with them at any time.

National Rate Averages

Mortgage Rates

Product Rate
5/1 yr ARM 3.147%
1 yr ARM 3.299%
15 yr fixed 3.221%
30 yr fixed 3.815%

Home Equity Rates

* Updated Jun 8, 2012